Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Alison Love's The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom.
It's 1937 and England whispers of WWII are in the air. Antonio Trombetta's family has been in England for decades. Antonio makes his living singing anywhere he can find work, which is why he's at the Paradise Ballroom. Olivia is a dancer determined to make her way in London. But her circumstances aren't ideal when she meets Antonio.
Months later, Antonio is a new father and Olivia a new bride. Fate intercedes, pushing the two together once more via Olivia's new husband. And in spite of Olivia's initial fears that Antonio will spill the few remaining secrets she has, the find themselves drawn together. But with Italy an enemy of England and both of them married to other people, it's a relationship that's doomed before it even begins.
Ha! I didn't even realize until I was writing this that today's author has almost the same exact name as the victim in yesterday's book! Weird.
Love's US debut is as much a family saga as it is a WWII tale. In fact, it's more the former than the latter. The war itself and particularly Italy's stance sets the tone for England at the time, leaving Antonio and his family (part of which are actual Mussolini supporters) open to the scrutiny and outright hatred some felt towards anyone hailing from an Axis heritage. And that's how the story begins - with Antonio carted off by the police in 1940. But before we get to the truth behind that part of the story, Love takes us back to 1937, hopping forward through time from there.
It's an interesting perspective, that of the Italians in England in particular. But again, it's only part of the story. Antonio and Olivia, the progression of their relationship, how the stories of those around them interact and intersect, and of course the effects of war on all of them are the focus of the tale. And Love does a good job highlighting all of this.
The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom is a good read, one perfect for fans of character-driven tales. And oh, there are some characters here but for me it felt more like a highlight reel than a full and rounded story (because we all know I'm more of a plot driven reader). Personal preference aside Love's characters are interesting and engaging, the kind you'll want to see through to the end.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Alison Love, you can follow her on Twitter.