It’s time again for the Slaves of Golconda to discuss another book and this time it’s Dance Night by Dawn Powell.
From the Publisher: It is sometime prior to WWI in Lamptown, Ohio, a working-class town filled with factory girls. Every Thursday night at the Casino Dance Hall women and a few men gather to escape their pedestrian lives in fantasy, and sometimes to live out these fantasies. Observing all are the novel’s two young protagonists, Morry, who dreams of becoming an architect and developer, and Jen, an unsentimental orphan of fourteen who, abandoned by her mother, dreams of escape.
Lamptown may have a lot of hubbub from the residents but most of the inhabitants are all waiting for their dreams to come true. Some dream of a job in the big city and others dream of finding a good man who’ll take them away from their meager existence. Until these dreams are realized though the community spends time at the casino, dancing, flirting and trying to make sense of the current relationships.
The novel is an intimate account of some of the residents who are suffering from loneliness and dreams unfulfilled. We have Elsinore Abbott who is tormented by her husband who accuses her of being unfaithful although he’s the one who travels and meets girls in other towns. My two favorite characters of course are Morry and Jen, two young people who hide their true feelings from each other and sometimes act out to lash out at one another, often with negative consequences to themselves, but they are still bound together by their dreams.
“Morry and Jen looked quickly at each other – this was the thing that always bound them – trains hunting out unknown cities, convincing proof of adventure far off, of destiny somewhere waiting, of things beyond Lamptown.”
What I liked a lot about the novel is how the characters would act or say things that from the way the author describes them, you know goes against what they really think or feel. It’s like we have another way of seeing the characters and gives us a broader characterization of each one.
Not to mention the wonderful descriptions of the dancing and the music. I don’t know anything really about music from that era but the book certainly made me wish I had some recordings to listen to while I read the book.
“Two floors above Bauer’s Chop House fifty pairs of feet went slip-a-slip a-slip to a drum’s beating. Sometimes a piano melody crept through the drum’s reverberation, sometimes the voice of Fischer emerged with a one-and-two and a one-and-two, and when this rhythm stopped suddenly there was a clap-clap-clap of hands, a silence and in this silence the clock sitting on the top of Bauer’s cash register marked off the hush into ones and twos and ones and twos and ones and twos.”
I’d never heard of Dawn Powell before but am so glad to have discovered this writer. Danielle just put up a great post with more info on the writer. I hope to read more of her books that’s for sure.
So hope the book sounds good to you and if you want to find out more feel free to drop in at the forum and discuss the book with us.