Ridley's Reviews > Phantom Waltz

Phantom Waltz by Catherine Anderson
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Feb 17, 13

bookshelves: dnf, contemporary, 1-star, disabled-h-h, read-2010, paper, naughty-stick
Read on July 10, 2010

I tried. I can't do it.

Between the info dumping about universal design to the freaking tire iron beating on my head while some crazy broad is screaming "BETHANY'S A CRIPPLE! A C-R-I-P-P-L-E! SHE'S LOST SO MUCH! ISN'T IT JUST THE WORST EVER?! SHE'S SO BRAVE TO KEEP GETTING OUT OF BED!" I just can't read this bullshit.

If we're supposed to see Bethany as a woman first, if this is supposed to be about how the human spirit is adaptable to overcome adversity, then why the hell is the entirety of the first few chapters completely focusing on the handicap rather than the person? How can the author convince the reader that a paraplegic is a woman like any other woman, when she clearly doesn't believe it herself?

I can see where this book is going, and I don't want to go there. I'm stopping now before I have a freaking fit of rage.
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Reading Progress

07/10/2010 page 1
0.0% "I'm almost certain I'm not going to like it, but I own it, so I may as well give it a shot." 6 comments
07/10/2010 page 24
6.0% "He's *carrying* her around? Is she freaking shitting me?" 3 comments
11/05/2011 page 9
2.0% "time away hasn't made this any less offensive. I'm highlighting whole pages."
11/05/2011 page 32
7.0% "Why are authors always so concerned about letting us know how the paraplegic character pees?" 7 comments

Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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message 1: by K. (new)

K. LOL! Okay, it may be a coincidence, but I'm currently reading an erotica paranormal where the heroine's name is Bethany! From your comment ... fortunately, the resemblance completely stops there.

Personally, I've never been overly interested in Catherine Anderson. I enjoyed "Comanche Moon" (the only book I've read by her to date), but not for its’ romance aspects. From what everyone describes her books as, she basically sounds a bit too melodramatic/sappy with some religious overtones ... just not my cuppa! Plus, she writes a lot of westerns - no thanks!

message 2: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz So it's a good buy eh (lol!!!) Gotta love those moments of anger ;)

message 3: by Catherine (new)

Catherine I liked her book Annie's Song, but I think I'll stay away from this one.

Ridley Lots of people love this book. Really, it's a matter of my being disabled. The book exoticizes the other in a bad way, and I resent it.

I don't really understand the appeal of the heroically suffering cripple. Why do people like to imagine disability as the worst ever? What's with this pushing the able bodied protag away because the disabled person doesn't want to be a burden? That's not noble, that's fucking depressing and a good reason to get counseling.

I think it's telling that people thought Adam was an asshole in Broken, but I was almost in tears with how well Hart handled his character (though I thought she did him wrong in the end, but that's a love triangle for you). The man had a personality! He yelled! He got frustrated! He had a libido! I loved his character a ton.

message 5: by Catherine (last edited Jul 10, 2010 06:15PM) (new)

Catherine I haven't read that book, so I can't really agree or disagree with you.

I'm not passing because she's disabled, I'm passing because it seems like that's the be all end all to her personality. I don't like to read books where one issue dominates everything. Whether it's race, religion, sexual preference, etc. If all you do is harp on that one issue, define everything in relation to it, and criticize the big bad world for not understanding you, I don't want to read the book. I find it boring.

message 6: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz I read Hart's "Broken" and I can't say I liked Adam at all because he was so selfish BUT he was a very well-written character and his part of the story just killed me too. Hart did a phenomenal job conveying his frustration I thought.

message 7: by Catherine (new)

Catherine How was he selfish?

message 8: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz I thought that his wife did everything she could to help him and he was just downright mean to her. He never appreciated her. He walked all over her and would pick a fight for nothing and she didn't deserve it.

Ridley I didn't think he was selfish, I thought he was assertive. You can't constantly be grateful and sweet and nice just because you have no choice but to rely on people. Regular couples fight and snap and act out, so do cripples. If you couldn't, you'd lose your mind.

I think that's why he wanted a divorce. Sadie had started to treat him like a burden, right or wrong, and he resented it and started acting out. It's a battle to keep a sense of self when your body doesn't cooperate. He mirrors my reality better than any other disabled protagonist I've read.

message 10: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Totally agree with you Ridley about not always being Mr Sunshine but I just thought he was excessively "jerkish" at times when she was just trying to help and be nice. Maybe she needed to fight back with him instead of always backing down. She seemed so browbeaten by him especially how he'd sort of ignore her too when he was doing his computer thing. Sadie did treat him like a burden and sad to say but he was and not just because of his quadraplegia. He was an emotional burden to her because she always seemed to feel guilty and it just weighed her down. She was living a nightmare and he was making it worse--not to discount what he was going through, but I just thought that he didn't have to be such an ass all the time. He was rarely just "normal". He seemed to accept his lot more than she did.

This book was so uncomfortable to read. Maybe the author could've just had them get divorced but then I don't think that would've had the reader feeling all "uncomfortable" or pack as much of an emotional punch. Just goes to show what good writing can accomplish :) I'm reading her book "Deeper" now and I can already feel the build up to whatever tragedy Hart's got planned. She's a very good author that's for sure.

Ridley But remember the soup incident, where he was a dick about the soup and she finally flips out on him and throws it at the wall?

I saw that as a turning point for them, like he was glad she could still talk to him like he was a man, rather than constantly humor the cripple. After that, they seemed to be patching things back up.

And his character resonated for me because I could see it his way. The actual physical handicap is a lot less frustrating than dealing with other people's reactions to it. Seeing your identity morph from "average person" to "cripple" is both maddening and terrifying. Everyone feels guilty around you, they look at you pityingly, and you just want to grab them by the shoulders and scream.

message 12: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Yes, from what I've seen it's people's reactions and pussyfooting that are the most troublesome to deal with. The people aren't wrong to try to help out, but it has to be frustrating to be on the receiving end.

message 13: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Yup I sort of remember that part. I still found him to be really mean sometimes, a kind of "biting the hand that feeds you" so to speak and for no reason --well if you interpret his actions because of frustration and wanting to be seen as a whole person instead of someone with a disability then there's a pretty good reason of course. Do you think she only saw him as someone who was no longer able bodied? I thought there were times when she tried to keep things normal but he'd ruin it with his jerk attitude. He also ignored her when he got into his computer world from what I remember. I guess his character can be interpreted in different ways: the mean sob who took his frustrations out on his caring wife who was at her wits end or the guy who was fed up with his wife treating him only like someone with a physical handicap and told her too.

That must be a horrible feeling to feel alright and comfortable with yourself but everyone else around you pities you or feels guilty for whatever reason. Maybe you see Adam more as a good guy becuase you can see where he's coming from better than I can while I can see him moreso as a not so nice guy because I can only really imagine Sadie's feelings.

Did this book make you uncomfortable when you read it? Were you "glad" that Adam died?

Ridley Oh, you little spoiler!

No, I wasn't glad about that. That sort of drove home what a burden and obstacle he was. It also let Sadie off the hook too easily for me. I wanted them to divorce so that both could say they were worthy of being loved for themselves and both could find people that suited better the people they were *now*, after the years and changes had altered them.

The way it ended worked in its own way though, I suppose, as it got to explore her feelings of guilt and grief, albeit briefly.

message 15: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz LOL! I was glad he died otherwise I couldn't see how she'd get her HEA seing as he was shown to be more of a burden to her, but since you mentioned the divorce idea and finding people that were better suited to them that'd have been better.

Ridley The way I see it, what better way to treat someone as an equal in terms of feelings than to tell someone you want a divorce? She clearly wanted one, but was too chickenshit to admit it. Had she been that unhappy with an able-bodied man, she'd have taken his suggestion, I thought. She stayed with him because he was a quad, and I thought Adam deserved more than a pity wife.

message 17: by Catherine (last edited Jul 11, 2010 04:33PM) (new)

Catherine That sounds pitiful for both of them. Why didn't he ask for a divorce?

message 18: by Ridley (last edited Jul 11, 2010 04:35PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Ridley He did, and she refused him indignantly.

You should read Broken. It's a great book, really. I own it in ebook and paper - the only book I do - so I have a copy to lend people.

message 19: by Catherine (new)

Catherine It sounds really tortured. You know how some people don't like to read horror because it scares them? I don't usually like to read angsty books that torture the characters. I find it upsetting.

Karen I'm a huge CA fan, but I can see what you're talking about with this book. Since you didn't like this one, you probably shouldn't read any more of this series because one of the characters has a disability of one kind or another in nearly every one of them. Just trying to save you a bit of frustration in case you have others in your TBR pile. :-)

Ridley Yeah, I read Baby Love before this one and the combo of the two says we should see other people. To be fair, all the CA books I own were Christmas gifts. I don't think I'd have bought them on my own.

Trisha I bought this one on my own 'cause I read that it was someone's favourite book of AAAALLL TIIIIME. Having read it, I can't understand why.

Ridley If you hate yourself enough to push people away lest you be a burden on them, yes, I think you need counselling.

If you think I've made sweeping assertions about how disabled people must behave and feel, then you weren't paying attention. I don't think there's only one way to live with disability, but I do think the above example is not healthy at all. It wouldn't be healthy for anyone to be so consumed by self-loathing, disabled or not.

Reading your bio, where you declare how you're not PC and you dislike the concept of "social justice," you come across as someone who enjoys the angst-ridden cripple theme and is mad that a disabled person has made you feel guilty about that. As I've said before, you don't need and won't get my permission to like what I do not. I am not, however, going to sit here and be lectured by a (presumably) able-bodied person about how I don't understand disability. That just doesn't interest me in the least.

Ridley Peyrac wrote: "I see. You by the way don't, your assumptions couldn't be further out in the left field, but that also doesn't matter."

I'm glad we had this chat. Your patronizing condescension was delightful.

message 25: by Nenia (new)

Nenia Campbell I feel the same way about mental illness in fiction. Sometimes it seems to me that people think mental and physical handicaps can double as personality flaws.

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