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Dance Lessons: A Novel
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Dance Lessons: A Novel

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A year after her husband’s death in a sailing accident off Martha’s Vineyard, Ellen Boisvert bumps into an old friend. In this chance encounter, she discovers that her immigrant husband of almost fifteen years was not an orphan after all. Instead, his aged mother Jo is alive and residing on the family’s isolated farm in the west of Ireland.

Faced with news of her mother-in-
Paperback, 232 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Syracuse University Press (first published March 2011)
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One man caught between three women.

This book touched me deeply. The action pivots between Boston and Ireland. The pacing is exquisite. I literally couldn’t stop turning the pages because I wanted so badly to understand how Finton and Ellen found their marriage disintegrating. The roots were in Ireland and that’s were Ellen heads when her marriage ends. She goes to visit her dying mother-in-law outside Galway on an isolated dairy farm. Jo is a crusty, tough old woman on the exterior and perhaps t
Excellent book----you felt you really knew the characters. Love Ireland and you'll love this!
After the death of her husband, Fintan, Ellen Boisvert sets about planning the rest of her life. She is a successful, 39-year-old teacher living in Boston, set free from a difficult marriage by fate. However, a year after Fintan's death, Ellen discovers that her immigrant husband was not an orphan as he had claimed, but that his mother is still living on the family farm on the west coast of Ireland.

Confronted with this sudden revelation, Ellen makes the decision to travel to Ireland in an attemp
I actually rated this book by how much this story haunted me after I had finished reading it. It just wouldn't leave me alone. And even now, sitting down to review it after having read it weeks ago, I'm still feeling the same weary and appalling way I did right after I had finished it.
I say that because, even though this came out to be a very horrifyingly sad and emotional read, I hated all of the characters in it. If they were real people, I would never want to know any of them. Not even before
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Ellen's husband, Fintan, had just recently passed away, when she meets an old acquaintance from the past - someone who knew both Ellen and Fintan. In that one meeting, Ellen learns some new facts about her husband - such as the news that his mother is actually alive and kicking, and that Fintan was not an orphan as he had let her to believe. This discovery bothers Ellen enough to make her visit Gowna in Ireland and find out what caused Fintan to lie about his mother.

I have to say - when I first
Bree T
Ellen is a French teacher at a relatively exclusive school in America’s north east. Her husband Fintan, from whom she was mostly estranged, living during the week on her campus in free accommodation from staff, dies in a sailing accident. Ellen, who had been trying to muster up the courage to leave Fintan after a marriage that had disintegrated into mental beration and abuse, is feeling as though some effort should be made to inform Fintan’s family. An Irish immigrant who was illegal for many ye ...more
I'm a sucker for novels set in Ireland. I always have been. All through high school, I read the Maeve Benchy books, even though they were nothing like anything else I read. It didn't matter. They were Irish. That is the reason that I decided to give this book a chance. I wanted to see how it fit in with the other works that I have read (see "A bit 'o Irish lit" post). Dance Lessons makes a worthy contribution to the tradition of telling stories of strong female characters who must discover and o ...more
Dance Lessons by Áine Greaney is about the dance we play with our husbands, wives, in-laws, and our own parents as we strive to keep things amicable and not reveal too many of our own secrets, especially secrets we’re not comfortable with ourselves. Sometimes, it is about the dance the characters play with themselves, balancing the truth and the lies. Set in Boston, the North Shore, and mostly Gowna, Ireland, Greaney’s prose sways like a graceful dancer telling Ellen Boisvert’s (a young lecturer ...more
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
Dance Lessons: A Novel by Aine Greaney will be published in March 2011. It follows Ellen as she travels to Ireland to find her deceased husband's mother. Ellen has only just discovered she exists when she bumps into a woman who knew her husband growing up. He's always told her he was an orphan.

This book was very sentimental, and had a misty quality to it. It's light and airy, yet still has a great deal of emotion. I found it delightful, sweet, and very sad.

There are a few spots where the story s
Ellen is a widow, hasn't even been a year ago since her husband Finlan drowned. She runs into Sheila who knew Finlan back in his home town. Finds out her husband wasn't an orphan, his mother is still alive. So after a few events leading up to Ellen arriving at her husband's hometown overseas, she ends up taking care of his mother that is dying of cancer.

Do they ever really to a point in this book or does it just drift? That was my feeling the whole entire book. It left me feeling as if I was loo
This book wasn't what I expected at all. I thought it would be chicklit, which isn't a bad thing, but this wasn't that genre at all. It's the story of Ellen, who's Irish husband is killed in a sailing accident, and how discovers by accident that he wasn't totally truthful about himself and his family. Ellen heads off to Ireland to confront her husband's past. The story touches on terminal illness, family relationships and life in rural Ireland. The book tells the story of the main characters in ...more
A book set in both Massachusetts and Ireland...what's not to like? Really loved the way the story unfolded and was told from a few different characters' perspectives. Interesting plot and characters, a pretty quick read. Not bad for a book I just picked up on the library shelves.
Two and a half stars. This book was fair. I would like to have seen more development in the plot. The story was everywhere. In a nutshell, the main character, Ellen, marries an Irish immagrant who she does not love. He is rather cruel, which stems back to his childhood as his mother was cruel to him. Her meaness stems back to her parents feeling the need to give away the family farm in order to get her married to a man twice her age. This is a story of sadness and regrets and does not always mak ...more
Marcella Curry
The development of the character Jo (a person it would be easy to hate & dismiss) was amazing; Greaney lets you get to know Jo through the events that shaped her so I didn't like her but could understand her. It's not an easy story as you experience the characters' restricted lives and hurtful actions but worth getting to the ending when Ellen is able to bravely change the legacy of bitterness. Vivid setting & characters.
The mystery of Ellen's Irish husband, Fintan's childhood slowly unravels when she travels to his hometown to meet his Mother, Jo, and ends up nursing her to her end-of-life. The older woman knows without being told what Ellen suffered in the abusive marriage, and learns the abuse was passed down from her.
Enjoyed this book. The author is originally from County Mayo, Ireland. She now lives in Massachusetts. The story begins in Dorchester, MA, but we are quickly transported across the pond to Ireland. Mystery and family secrets abound in this book. I loved the setting and the language.
I just raced through Aine Greaney's new novel Dance Lessons. I tried to read slowly, savoring the lyrical beading of words together, but the compelling story lines, expertly braided, forced me to devour it whole. (burp...)
Savagely honest. Brutally tender. A must read.
Ken Ellrott
Mar 05, 2011 Ken Ellrott rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: men and women
Recommended to Ken by: NetGalley
Wonderful read. Even though I thought this would be an exclusively women's story, I was drawn by the book's intriguing hook. It was a great read. I won't give the ending away, but for a sad book, it has a very uplifting ending.
This was a nice book about families, things you don't know about the person you live with and a nice view of life in the Boston area as well as a small Irish Village. A quick read that I could not put down.
Well-written, well-plotted, well-delivered. A slice of the Emerald Isle not usually seen by a U.S. reader. The characters will stick in your memory long after you've closed the book.
Just finished this book - great characters. It should be a good discussion book - talking about relationships, choices and even redemption.
I heard the author do a reading and thought I would give the book a try. I loved it and could not put it down.
Michelle Lynne
I'm sorry to say I had to ditch this book. I could not get into it. The writing style really wasn't for me.
May 31, 2011 Staci marked it as to-read
Recommended to Staci by: Anna Horner
horrible! don't read this unless you've had a deeply disturbing childhood...disappointing.
Just started. Heard this author read from it last night. Looks really good.
Very vivid book, very gripping view of how dark life and families can be.
Catherine Coffman
I was so bored by this book that I didn't even finish it...
Jenna marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
Laurel Bradshaw
Laurel Bradshaw marked it as to-read
Nov 05, 2014
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An Irish-born author who lives north of Boston. Novels: The Big House and Dance Lessons. Also short stories, personal essays and features in such publications as the Boston Globe Magazine,, The Literary Review, Creative Nonfiction, Natural Bridge, The Fish Anthology and other publications. Also a frequent public speaker and creative writing teacher at various schools, libraries and arts ...more
More about Áine Greaney...
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