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Invitation to the Waltz
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Invitation to the Waltz (Olivia Curtis #1)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  447 ratings  ·  43 reviews
A diary for her innermost thoughts, a china ornament, a ten-shilling note, and a roll of flame-coloured silk for her first evening dress—these are the gifts Olivia Curtis receives for her 17th birthday. She anticipates her first dance, the greatest yet most terrifying event of her restricted social life, with tremulous uncertainty and excitement. For her pretty, charming
Paperback, 302 pages
Published 2003 by Virago Modern Classics (first published 1932)
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Dec 17, 2011 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: time of my life
Recommended to Mariel by: slow motion
I think I loved Invitation to the Waltz a little bit. I have a feeling about it that it could grow into my memory as a fonder experience. Sweet and sad. I'll sigh when spotting it on my bookshelf (it is still on my bedside table. I'm reluctant to let go of the evening just yet). It's what people mean when they describe an experience as bittersweet, probably. I don't know if I could trust a memory as real unless its edges were sharp. "Did I built it into something too perfect?" If you're like me ...more
What a delightful read! I came across this book due to comparisons with I Capture the Castle, another wonderful coming-of-age book and a favorite of mine.

Invitation to the Waltz is told from the POV of Olivia, 17 year old protagonist, who has been invited to her first dance. The first half covers the morning of her birthday, and the preparations for the dance. The second half is the dance itself. This book is definitely not for those who like plot-driven, action-packed or fast-paced novels. In f
Upon first reading Invitation to the Waltz I thought it was a lively charming novel, which it is. This re-read of it however, has given me the chance to appreciate just how very good it is. First published in 1932, but set around 1920 Invitation to the Waltz is the story of a dance, seventeen year old Olivia's first ever, which she will attend with her beautiful older sister Kate. On the surface there isn’t much to the story at all. Olivia wakes to her seventeenth birthday, is given some marvell ...more
This was the first Lehmann I read, and it's still probably my favorite. It's a simple snapshot of a teenage girl getting ready for and going to her first dance. Nothing momentous happens, but it's not meant to; it's just a beautifully written, sympathetically perceived portrait of its heroine, Olivia, and a short span in her life.
What could have been, with a less talented and sharp writer, a shallow, sentimental, soapy romance novel, becomes with the great Rosamond Lehmann a masterful exploration of adolescent angst and dreams, and one of the most delightful evocation, not only of a young girl's psyche, but also of a whole British social class at a certain time of its history. As usual, Lehmann approaches her characters with tenderness and compassion, but also with great realism and depth, and not, sometimes, without a l ...more
I actually felt sad when this book ended. It went too swiftly! I felt downhearted that I had to leave dear Olivia (and Kate) after knowing them for only a short while. Thank goodness there is a sequel or else I would feel much sadder than I do now.

Rosamond Lehmann = majorly talented author. I am convinced she could turn a story about watching paint dry into a compelling and beautiful read.
I was interested in reading "Invitation to the Waltz", by Rosamund Lehmann, primarily because of Lehmann's association with the Bloomsbury Group through her brother, John Lehmann, who worked for the Woolfs in their publishing endeavor, the Hogarth Press. What I found is that Rosamund Lehmann has been influenced by Virginia Woolf's writing concepts, and the stream-of-consciousness method.

The entire book takes place during one day, similar to "Mrs. Dalloway". The two main characters, Kate and Oliv
Jacquelynn Luben
I recently finished An Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann. She was on the fringe of the Bloomsbury set, and there are echoes of Virginia Woolf in the way she concentrates on a very short space of time and presents the thoughts of the main protagonists, rather then telling a story with a strong plot. On the one hand, I have to say that it was amusing and endearing to get under the skin of the teenage girl, Olivia, as she prepares for the all-important first dance. On the other hand, this ...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

This kept reminding me of a girls school story. It was written in 1932 and even now I've probably read more school stories from that era than I have adult literature; and the central character is seventeen year old Olivia who is more-or-less the kind of upper middle class nice girl who might have turned up at the Chalet School or its ilk.

It was just the same turns of phrase and atmosphere that linked this book to my childhood reading though, this is a more honest look at a young woman. The story

This charming book, first published in 1932, follows the sensitive Olivia Curtis through two important days of her life: her seventeenth birthday and, a week later, her first dance. Set in 1920, it evokes the clumsy mixture of eagerness, innocence and embarrassment that surrounds a girl who longs to live to the full but knows she is not one of the prettiest ones.

This is a wonderful portrait of a girl on the brink of womanhood and a particular time and place. Rosamond Lehmann is probably best kno
This is the first in a series of books about the same character. In this one she is a girl of 16, going to her first party/dance in a country house with her sister who is 18. It is the story of that dance. The next in the series of books follows the same girl when she has a relationship with a married man and that sounds like it will be a lot more of a spicy read ! Also in this book, I am afraid I got mixed up about which bits of the book were actually written through the eyes of the sister and ...more
This book follows seventeen year old Olivia in the days before her first dance. We meet an array of different characters, from her beautiful sister, Kate to the cheeky children of the village all seen from Olivia's point of view, some times innocent, yet often with a wry insight and always with tenderness. I loved the flow and rhythm of this story as you bounce along with Olivia. Also, although the book is set clearly within a 1920s time frame and within a certain class, I think young girls of t ...more
I wasn't too fussed about the over convoluted descriptions of nature, but Olivia's dancing partners and her conversations with them were spot on. Very funny, sweet book about growing up and how at seventeen everything feels so serious and the future is a terrifying thing. I especially liked the talk with her Uncle suggesting she won't feel comfortable with herself until she's about 30, and Olivia is horrified.
Susan Kavanagh
My first foray into the work of Rosalind Lehmann will not be my last. Lehmann presents a beguiling story of a week in the life of a young woman that includes her birthday and an important dance. Within this tight structure, the author develops interesting characters, explores issues of class and describes English country society between the wars. All the blogs were right--this is a terrific novel.
Facebook says I have read this book and I couldn't remember anything about it, but yes, Goodreads and Bookcrossing both say I have it, Goodreads even says I've read it, but I have no idea where it is!!
Moira Russell
de rigeur GoodReads review UTU selection:

- the cover is b&w, except where it is pink (OMG Photoshop effect)
- the title is in swirly neon-yellow fake cursive
- the back cover is VILE pink
- with a neon-yellow blurb on it from Anita Brookner
- and other titles by the same author are represented by thumbnails showing, respectively: 1) a man's giant blue hands clutching a woman, in orange, from the back 2) a girl whose face is half cut off opening her pink
All told, the story is simple in its summation—a young girl’s birthday followed by her experiences at her first dance—but it would be a detriment to leave it at that. Olivia is a wonderful observer. She catches people both at their best and their worst—all pretense is stripped away, revealing the true nature of every character. This is an honest book full of awkwardness and vulnerability. Yet at same time, Olivia’s observations of both herself and others are often wonderfully amusing.

However, th
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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
As I finished the last page of this totally enchanting book, I really wished I was sitting with a book group which included a few 18-20 year-old women so we could compare their experiences with those of the young women in Invitation to the Waltz.

Rosamond Lehmann engages the reader so completely in the life of two young sisters that the details surrounding their invitation to a coming out dance becomes more wrought with fear and emotion than the most edgy of today's contemporary thrillers. This 1
The story of Olivia Curtis, who has just turned seventeen, as she experiences her birthday, the preparation for her first dance, and the dance itself. Written in 1932, but taking place somewhat earlier I think (references to the war with fairly young people having suffered injuries), it depicts rural English middle class society and how Olivia as a young girl reacts to the people around her. Once the evening of the dance arrives, she is exposed to a greater variety of people than she had ever en ...more
Angela Young
What a clever idea to make the excitement about and preparations for her first dance the setting for Olivia Curtis's agonising and heart-rending coming-of-age. The things she notices about herself as she realises the party she had imagined is not the party she is actually at are poignant and true and timeless. I think I imbibed this novel in its entirety the way - when I've cooked food for supper - I eat without thinking about the individual ingredients that make it taste the way it tastes. I ca ...more
Sally Walsh
Nearly gave up after the first few pages - far too fussy vocab. for me. Then I got into the flow and began to really enjoy it. I will be reading the sequel as soon as I get hold of a copy.
When I first started this book, I found it really difficult and quaint to read, especially because of all the 'one' and 'oneself' the characters used. But from the second part onwards, I really started to enjoy it and I loved reading about the dance. God, now that I'm thinking about it, it really was a good read. In my edition, it says it was first published in 1932 and that it is set in 1920 and it really does seem like that. It was like a plunge into the mind of a young girl going to her first ...more
Diane Barnes
This was a lovely little novel about a seventeen year old girl and her first dance. We've all been there; the fear that she'll be a wallflower, the awkwardness of making small talk, the dress that's not as nice as she had imagined, trying to figure out how to navigate the adult world. The action takes place in 1920, but seems very contemporary. Some things never change. The author does a wonderful job of putting you inside Olivia's mind and emotions.
rachael gibson
Brilliant coming-of-age book in a similar vein to I Capture the Castle. A really comforting, wonderful read but painful at times with the perfectly-documented commentary on what it is to be an awkward teenager full of uncertainty.

"She tried to repeat it indifferently, as if correcting what of course had been a mere slip of the tongue..."

In fact, sod being an awkward teenager - it's a passage that still makes me squirm as an awkward adult!
Not much happens in this book, but then nothing is really supposed to happen: it's just a snapshot of a moment in the life of a young girl who was living at a time of immense social change in Britain, one of the last generation of upper-middle-class girls who would be educated at home by a governess, have a brief coming out season, and then be married off to a nice young man. Very light and charming, a quick and pleasurable read.
It's trivial to say that this novel would make for a Downton Abbey fix, but it's a haunting novel, set in the years post-WWI, about a young British woman's first dance. More than any book I've read in some time, it successfully channels the anxiety and confusion a young woman faces as she becomes an adult--as well as the way one shakes with the beauty of finding herself and her agency in the world.
Though very much a period piece, this novel transcends its period in capturing the shifting emotions of seventeen-year-old Olivia. The second half of the book takes place almost entirely at Olivia's first dance, where she alternately feels confident, smart, stupid, so much dependent on the partner or guest she's with at the moment. Beautiful miniature of the turbulent time that is adolescence.
I really enjoyed this book published in 1932. Sounds like a hideous romance novel, but is actually a very simple story about a girl turning 17 and attending her first dance. The prose is very beautiful, and I will definitely add the sequel to my tbr pile.
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Rosamond Nina Lehmann was born in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, as the second daughter of Rudolph Lehmann and his wife Alice Davis, a New Englander. Her father Rudolph Chambers Lehmann was a liberal MP, and editor of the Daily News. John Lehmann (1907-1989) was her brother; one of her two sisters was the famous actress Beatrix Lehmann.

In 1919 she went to Girton College, University of Cambridge to r
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Advice to Young Journal Keepers. Be lenient with yourself. Conceal your worst faults, leave out your most shameful thoughts, actions, and temptations. Give yourself all the good and interesting qualities you want and haven't got. If you should die young, what comfort would it be to your relatives to read the truth and have to say: It is not a pearl we have lost, but a swine?” 11 likes
“I want to do something absolutely different, or perhaps nothing at all: just stay where I am, in my home, and absorb each hour, each day, and be alone; and read and think; and walk about the garden in the night; and wait, wait...” 10 likes
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