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Dancing in a Distant Place
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Dancing in a Distant Place

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  218 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A warm and intelligent novel about a young teacher who throws herself into the lives of her students in the hopes of forgetting the past, only to find it returning more vividly than ever.
When Iris Chisholm arrives in the tiny Scottish Highland community of Green Cairns, she's still in a state of shock--not so much from her husband's untimely death as from the discovery tha
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 18th 2006 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published September 1st 2003)
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Dale Harcombe
Rating and review to come.
Three and a half stars.
I bought this book at a recent Lifeline fair because I adored the mauve and blue cover and also I have enjoyed a number of other books by Isla Dewar, so I had a fair idea what to expect.
After her husband Harry dies, Iris Chisholm finds out the extent of his lies to her. She thought she knew him so well, but finds out how little she knew. The debts he leaves behind mean she is unable to keep the family home. Despite complaints from the teenage son
Dancing in a Distant Place was a pleasant enough read, but it just didn't speak to me. I have no major complaints with this book, yet there were a number of small irritants that caused me to dock it a couple of stars. There were lots of deliciously eccentric villagers, and many redeemable sections involving the antics of the schoolchildren. I thought Colin, in particular, was beautifully characterized and written. Unfortunately, other parts of the book were quite dull. I found several of the mal ...more
Bailey Little
Though it took me a while to finish this book (busy, busy schedule!), I REALLY enjoyed it. While reading the book all of the characters from Green Cairns (Mrs. Chisholm, her students, and her own children) all grew on me! I loved the setting, the plot, and everything about the book. I will definitely be adding it to my list of favorites and I recommend it to anybody who enjoys a good story about country life in a small town.
I wasn't sure I would like this book at first despite it being the kind of book I usually do enjoy, because I found the first chapter- which introduces the characters we are about to meet many years after the events in the story- rather worrying that by reading it, which was also written in present tense which I don't generally like- the rest of the book would either be spoiled or continue in present tense. Happily, these worries were needless- I found the book un-put-downable. I was particularl ...more
Everytime I re-read this book, I cry when she writes her letter in the end. As a teacher myself, it rings a major bell. I love this book, would read it again and again.
Diane Will
I needed some easy reading after giving up on my last book. This one had been on my shelf for a while. I like Isla Dewar, probably something to do with her being a Scottish writer.

Iris is a teacher. Happily married, two teenage children and a husband she thinks she knows. Here husband dies in a car accident and they have to come to terms with their loss. That seems bad enough until she discovers they have no money, no home....he had gambled everything away. She has to make the decision of moving
A novel about a woman in Ireland in the 1960’s who loses her husband and has to build her life anew. She moves to a very remote town and has to deal with small-town life in a community where everybody knows everybody. It wasn’t the most riveting thing I’ve ever read, but it was good; the author really does a great job creating characters who feel real and she also excels in transporting you to the place she describes. The protagonist was a confident lady; I liked reading how she dealt with situ ...more
I LOVED this book. There were lots of interesting characters, an interesting setting (a running theme with books I like, set in a different time and place), challenges, tragedies, catastrophes, triumphs, victories, small pleasures, healing, coming together, moving on.

It was the moving on that got me, really. It was very encouraging. Whatever tragedy befell her, Iris figured out how to move on, to make things work, to accept. She never crumpled under the weight of her problems, though it was a s
I liked this one a lot. Written by Scotswoman Isla Dewar, the story focuses on the year in the life of Scottish schoolteacher Iris Chisholm, who relocates herself and her two teenaged children to a village in the highlands after the sudden death of her husband. Dewar's writing style is realistic; it is infused with just enough light humor and drama to keep things interesting. Highly enjoyable read.
A lovely read! This is the first book I have read by Isla Dewar and I found it delightful. Made me just want to curl up and while away the afternoon with a cuppa tea and this book!
Enjoyed the author's style of writing. There were, though, a lot of typos. Arghh.
Better than the previous Dewar I read. Guess I'll give her one more chance.
The setting is Scotland in the 1960's. The reader needs some background knowledge of the culture and history to fully understand the story. The characters had strong traits and the plot rolled at a steady pace. The only part I didn't particularly like is the beginning, which should have been the ending. The story starts with an episode of the characters 30 + years after the actual setting takes place. I think it would best if that part was last because I didn't comprehend the significance of the ...more
I would have liked this book a whole lot better if it had focused more on Iris's teaching since the parts with the village children and in the school were the only parts I really enjoyed. The problems of her son and daughter who, quite frankly, I thought were both extremely asinine, did not interest me at all. Too much space was devoted to them, in my opinion.
But oh, I loved Colin! He was an absolute sweetheart. I think I have a weakness for little boys who are underdogs. (Then again, don't we a
I just discovered this delightful author. Set in Scotland, Iris is a teacher who at 39 becomes a widow with two teenagers. After the funeral Iris discovers her husband has led a secret life that has put her so deep in debt she is forced to sell their house and move her family to rural Scotland where a house is offered with a job as the "Missie" of a one room schoolhouse. The story is filled with love, laughter and tears but her love of her students and children, despite their issues shines throu ...more
This book was interesting and different. I felt the author was somewhat remote from the reader, but somehow I still managed to read this book. It was mainly about what life was like living in the countryside as opposed to dwelling in the city and the new situations the family had to deal with.
Mary Lou
It has lots of wonderful moments in between a great beginning & lovely ending. A schoolteacher resolves some of her single parenting problems & shares classroom goings-on to make us laugh & sigh in recognition. I doubt I learned much of anything but I certainly enjoyed it.
Anything by Isla Dewar will dependably be very satisfying. I read this most recently. About a recently widowed teacher who is shaken by her husbands legacy and wants to make a fresh start in a small country school. It has a distinctly scottish buzz to it
Quick, very pleasant read, about a teacher who takes over a one-room school in rural Scotland after her husband dies, leaving her penniless. Thought the main character was well drawn and fairly realistic. Not a terribly deep story, but lovely.
The story of Iris whose husband dies whilst leading a double lifeShe takes her children to live in a remote Scottish village where she becomes the Head at the school. Her effect on her children and vullage life. Moving and funny.
I wasn't sure what to expect, it looked like it could be some dreary British book, but it was actually quite funny and a really light read that I couldn't put down. It was nice to "meet" a new author whose work I enjoyed.
Fantastic. Now I'll have to search Amazon to see what else this Scottish author has written and hope something is available in the US. This is one to pass along to Mom, to friends, to teachers.
A friend recommended this to me and loaned me her copy - great choice! I really enjoyed the author's writing style and will definitely be looking for more books by her!
Engrossing novel about a woman who, after events that drastically change her situation, moves her children to a small community in Scotland.
This was really different for me. I never read about people in Scotland. I like books that open up the way people are in different places.
Colleen Anderson
Only read to page 144. Slow-moving, not engaging. Besides, the end was given away in the first chapter, so there's nothing drawing me to finish it.
Generally a really easy, enjoyable read. The first chapter was very hard to get through but once I got past it, I loved the rest of the book.
Have read nearly all of her books. A contemporary look at Scotland. Hard to come by in US.
This couldn't miss becoming a personal favorite.
About a teacher - and takes place in the Scottish Highlands.
I really enjoyed this story of a woman who moves away to change her life--I guess I read a lot of this sort of book.
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Born in Edinburgh, Isla Dewar now lives in Fife with her husband, a cartoonist, and two sons. Her first novel, Keeping Up with Magda, published in 1995, has been followed by a string of bestsellers.
More about Isla Dewar...
Giving Up On Ordinary Keeping Up with Magda Secrets of a Family Album Getting Out of the House It Could Happen To You

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