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Dance Lessons

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  96 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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Mar 19, 2011 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 18, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
Excellent book----you felt you really knew the characters. Love Ireland and you'll love this!
Rubery Book Award
Mar 17, 2015 Rubery Book Award rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-winners
Shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award

This was beautifully and carefully crafted with a great sense of character and place. It painted a warm, evocative picture of rural Ireland, effectively contrasting it with the world of academic life in the US.. There were many short, vivid episodes, which skipped between viewpoint, place and time. This device was mostly effective, although the judges thought that it sometimes slowed down the story. Nevertheless, the writing is exceptionally good and the pres
Mar 20, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
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
May 15, 2011 Bree T rated it liked it
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
Apr 17, 2011 Cassandra rated it really liked it
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
Sep 01, 2011 Serena rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 21, 2011 Tonya rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
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
Apr 12, 2011 Lynne rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 19, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 30, 2011 Pam rated it liked it
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
May 26, 2011 Marcella Curry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Nov 19, 2013 Chastain rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 09, 2012 Peggy rated it really liked it
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.
May 19, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2016 Ken Ellrott rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 20, 2011 Deborah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Just started. Heard this author read from it last night. Looks really good.

Merged review:

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.
Jun 07, 2011 Lzarrow rated it liked it
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.
Sep 02, 2012 Ann rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 16, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
Just finished this book - great characters. It should be a good discussion book - talking about relationships, choices and even redemption.
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
Jul 03, 2011 Joan rated it did not like it
horrible! don't read this unless you've had a deeply disturbing childhood...disappointing.
Jul 01, 2013 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Very vivid book, very gripping view of how dark life and families can be.
Catherine Coffman
Feb 01, 2011 Catherine Coffman rated it did not like it
Shelves: ebooks, review-copy, dnf
I was so bored by this book that I didn't even finish it...
Beth Koopman
Beth Koopman rated it liked it
May 25, 2016
Jodi marked it as to-read
May 25, 2016
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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
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