Review: Shall We Dance by Maggie Alderson

Shall We Dance

by Maggie Alderson

Loulou Landers, London’s undisputed Queen of Vintage Fashion, meets a man on the eve of her dreaded forty-ninth birthday. He’s kind, he’s sensitive, he’s divinely handsome and he carries a designer suit like George Clooney. Unfortunately, he’s barely half her age, and Loulou’s just not ready to ‘go cougar’.

Then there’s Loulou’s 21-year-old daughter, Theo, who won’t get a job, won’t move out, wears chainstore fashion, and hasn’t said a civil word to her mother for years. And she’s on the verge of her own spectacularly unsuitable affair.

So how will Loulou cope with a daughter who’s off the rails, a man who won’t take no for an answer, an ageing process that won’t slow down – not to mention a birthday party in a camping ground? Like she always has – with wit, grit and an exemplary sense of style.

This book is set out as a series of short stories alternating between Loulou and Theo’s points of view. It is a lovely readable book. Loulou has a successful small vintage shop where she also lives. Theo receives a large monthly payment from her absent father, so doesn’t feel the need to work or help her mother out. She comes across as being stuck in a rut (at 21!) and I wanted to reach into the book and smack her so she would wake up to herself. She has the potential to have a great life but doesn’t seem to want to give herself a chance. Loulou can do nothing right by her, which causes continual angst between them.

When the ‘young’ Marc shows intense interest in Loulou is causes a massive rift in the mother-daughter relationship, to the point that Theo ends up moving out. Loulou – as much as she is attracted to Marc – just can’t seem to get past the age difference, and to make light of the situation to her friends describes herself as a cougar, even though it is not the way she feels. This in turn causes her anxiety when her friends play on the situation.

The story explores this relationship and one that Theo is involved in (with an older man who is her mother’s age) in great detail and the way that it written, as a reader you are able to feel the difficult choices the two girls have to face and how, ultimately the decision to live their lives their own way is entirely up to them. While reading it I was able to feel Loulou’s pain and how much she would love to succumb to Marc’s charms, but just couldn’t relax enough to let go.

I really enjoyed this book, it was a lovely read and I was glad to be part of Loulou’s and Theo’s journey of discovery.

Recommended Age: 18+

My Rating: 4/5 Great read.

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