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The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  274 ratings  ·  123 reviews
The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.

Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray t
Paperback, 328 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Broadway Books (first published November 27th 2014)
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  274 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
This is one book that actually surprised me quite a lot. I don't read that much romance, but now and then do I like to take a break from reading crime and horror to read something a bit lighter. To be honest, I was not completely sold when it came to this book's story when I read the blurb. And, in a way, I was right about feeling a bit cautious when it came to the romance part of this book. But, I was wrong to think that this book wouldn't suit me.

However, I will start with saying that I did n
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love this book. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and this book also throws in a large amount of romance too. In the US all we hear about is the Japanese internment camps but this book takes us into the internment of the Italian and other ethnic populations in Great Britain which I was unaware. This is the US debut for this author and if this book is any indication, I would say that she has a bright future. I highly recommend The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads

This one was disappointing for me. I wish I had read reviews before reading because if I had done so, I think that I would have had different expectations. What spoiled it for me was the description of the novel: The back of the book describes The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom as an epic romance between dance hall hostess, Olivia, and an Italian singer, Antonio, who fall in love in the years before WWII. My problem was that I found Olivia and Antonio's relationship to be lacking. There were fe
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Every summer around beach time or holiday time I start craving an historical fiction with romance. This is sooo much harder than it sounds. Outlander is not it (for me). I need a good balance of the two genres and I want fairly realistic relationships, not unrealistic bodice rippers or the stuff you can completely turn your brain off to read.
Found It!

This historical romance (hard to label this one, Kirkus - "a period romance built on several layers of love stories." Isn't that lovely? Yes, tha
The Lit Bitch
That’s the description of this latest historical fiction novel and to my surprise…..the description didn’t really match the novel which was unusual for me. I noticed other reviewers noted the same thing.

I think what caught me off guard was the implication of an ‘epic romance’ based on the description of the novel. The description, to me, implies epic based on using the war as a backdrop. In most war time romances that I’ve read, they are typically pretty long and the war plays a larger role in t
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
I received ARC of The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom from Edelweiss and publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of the books where the blurb and the actual story do not match. We are promised forbidden and powerful love story between Italian immigrant Antonio and beautiful English dancer Olivia. The truth is their love story is very minuscule part and not even the best part of the book. Their love is awkward and lacking sparks or passion. I definitely imagined there would be mo
Jamma Tardif Literary Laundry List
Literary Laundry List Book Review
My first love is historical fiction, so getting an ARC of The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom, by Alison Love was cool.

I loved the premise of this book, but I had a hard time getting emotionally involved with the characters. Maybe it's just me because there are some great reviews out there for this story, so just take my opinion with a grain of salt and then go read it for yourself.

The story
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This is an emotional roller coaster of a book... Despite the fact that it is set before, during and in the aftermath of WWII, there is pretty much no actual action in the book - the focus is solely on the emotional things going on. There is the dance hall girl turned socialite, the socialite scorning his family with his progressive behavior, the Italian family facing social and political pressure as outsiders in London, the independent sister straining against the cultural and societal roles pla ...more
Autumn Byrd
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: my-library No. NO!


Reading this book was a huge disappointment. This book could have been more romantic, more exciting, the author could have done so much with this book! The title of this book had so much potential for it to be an amazing book or contain lots of excitement, but it doesn't. This book had me not even wanting to even finish it.

The entire time I was reading this book, I just wanted to slap the daylights out of every character in this book. If I could have materialized inside this
Katie Harder-schauer
I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

I have been on a bit of a WWII kick lately in my reading, but it has been much more diverse than my childhood WWII binge reading ever was. The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom doesn't really discuss the war much, instead it is largely set in the time leading up to it and immediately after it. It is also largely told from the perspective of Italians living in London, which is a new WWII perspect
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I found the focus of this story to be the most compelling part. I don't think I've ever come across a WWII story that focuses on the Italian immigrant community in one of the Allied nations before, and it's honestly not that shocking to discover that Italians were treated much the same as Japanese immigrants were treated in the United States. Internment camps, deportation, police monitoring - and not just for active members of the Fascist movement or ardent supporters of Mussolini, either. It sp ...more
Emma Clement
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I received a free e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Here it is:

Wow. I devoured this book in a day! I really liked the characters, especially Olivia and Antonio, both of whom were great performers (dance, music). This story is a story of their forbidden love, along with forbidden love between many of the other characters as well, during a time of great war. I was not sure if anyone would or even could end up happy at the end of this novel, but I was surprised with the way thi
Mar 23, 2016 rated it liked it
**I received a free advanced reader's copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for an unbiased review**

The blurb on the back promised "an epic love story" between an Italian club singer and a tango dancer. This is misleading, as neither of the characters are very well developed, and I had a hard time believing their story. They aren't even the main characters in the book, and rarely shared a page together, let alone any chemistry. It doesn’t feel real, and it’s hard to care about what
Apr 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Romance plays a very small part in this book. The jacket claims "an epic love" story but to me it was more about WWII and the prejudice against Italians living in England..The two main characters were interesting to a point..Olivia a beautiful ballroom dancer who is married but finds herself drawn to Antonio an Italian singer. In the beginning they meet but are separated by the onset of war. We read about Olivia's life before dancing and also of Antonio's life and family. There are several compl ...more
Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I received a free advanced readers copy from First to Read, in exchange for an honest review.
(This is my first ARC, which I'm pretty excited about!)
I had a hard time getting into this book. I didn't find the first meeting between Olivia and Antonio to be anything special, so I wasn't sure why it was mentioned in the blurb. Once the story entered the war, the book got better.
If you're looking for a pure romance novel, this isn't it. But if you enjoy historical fiction and family stories, you'll
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this title in exchange for an honest review.

Love's "The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom" is a sweet love story about Olivia and Antonio - a pair who met at the Paradise Ballroom before the beginning of WWII. The story glosses over the great difficulties of the time period and focuses more on the forbidden love between Olivia and Antonio as well as the impact that the war and social stations have on both of their families. Most o
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I usually enjoy every book I read for one reason or another. I love historical fiction and from this book I learned more about WWII in London. One of the main characters is Italian, living with his family in London. It really portrayed the racism and the fright of fascism during the war. For me, that was the enjoyable part of the book. However, the main story was a love story, and it just fell flat to me. The story seemed unrealistic and unrelatable, primarily the meeting of the couple which was ...more
Tanya (mom's small victories)
The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom explores the Italian immigrant experience living in England and the forbidden love stories between Italians and English during WWII. Overall, I enjoyed the family drama and learning about the plight of Italians and English during the war...I could have used a little more of the love stories to balance out the drama.

See my full review on my blog, Mom's Small Victories.
This review was originally posted on Mom's Small Victories
Katie Hanrahan
May 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Unfortunately, the characters lacked that spark that sets them apart. I found the book too slow and lacking cohesion, and in general it disappointed. The premise seemed intriguing but the execution was not there.
Heather C
I was really looking forward to reading this novel, however I had a little bit of a love/hate relationship with the experience. I wanted to love it because of the different perspective on the oft told World War II story, but I found it a little convoluted and hard to enjoy to its fullest extent. To start with, the subject matter. The novel is set in England during the early days of World War II and one portion of the novel (a significant portion) is focused on an Italian immigrant family. Throug ...more
Diane Moyle
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This story is twofold. On the surface it is about a girl, Olivia, who is a dance hostess at the Paradise Ballroom where she meets a singer, Antonio Trombetta. He is Italian, with an astonishing voice and she is a down on her luck beauty. Their eyes meet across the room and although he can’t stop thinking about her, he is a married man and they go their separate ways. She meets a rich man, Bernard who falls in love with her and they marry. Olivia and Antonio’s path cross again when Antonio helps ...more
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for a good historical fiction novel, especially one that explores different cultures (rather than just set in the American past, that is). The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom excels at this, weaving together multiple storylines (Olivia the dancer, Antonio the singer, and their assorted friends and family) with the backdrop of WWII Europe.

While the book has its share of romantic storylines, including some forbidden love, for me the real highlight was the slice of life type scenes we
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I received this book from The Reading Room to read and review.

This book is set in England beginning in the fall in 1937, a couple years before the start of World War II started, and it starts with a brief meeting between two strangers, an Italian singer name Antonio and a dance hostess named Olivia, who have no idea how much of an impact that meeting will have on the rest of their lives.

Months go by and by the next meeting between Antonio and Olivia, things are very different for the both of th
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I'm really divided about this book. The word “epic” was used to describe Antonio and Olivia's love in this book and I found absolutely nothing epic about it. Their first meeting is far from romantic, in fact it was a disaster. They assumed the worst about each other and consequently spent the next 100+ pages avoiding each other. Yet somehow, I'm supposed to believe that they fell in love with each other in
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Romance is out of my comfort zone, but this historical romance was certainly worthwhile and poignant reading. This novel was bittersweet but satisfying--set against a World War II background in England but, using as an example, a close-knit Italian family, the Trombettas, to illustrate the prejudice against Italians at that time. Their internment in special locations, was similar to that of Japanese-Americans in the U.S.. Both are stains upon their countries' honor.

A young Italian singer meets
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a very entertaining and interesting story that really held my interest. I love stories from this time period. While most of them are mostly talking about the war and what Germany was doing, this one hinted at Germany. But for the most part, it dealt with England and how they were dealing with the war. Whether there was going to be a war, where it would play out and what about all the refugees that had fled to their country.

It was also about several love stories and about stories that r
Liz Pollinger
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
At the onset of World War II, in England, Olivia meets Antonio at the Paradise Ballroom. She is a dance hostess and he is an Italian singer. There is an instant and electric attraction between the two of them. Olivia meets and marries a wealthy businessman who becomes Antonio's patron. She is terrified Antonio will reveal a secret that will ruin her marriage. They manage to control their attraction to each other for several years, until one day they finally come together. With the war becoming a ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-thing
I won an ARC from another site. It was a pleasant read, a good 3.5, and the hook for me on this one was learning that the British also interned certain citizens of foreign descent during WWII, just as we so regrettably did with the Japanese. So that was interesting on its own, and reading about the activities of the Fascists in London was also. The characters were not especially strong though, and that made them a little less endearing than they might have been. So while it was a pleasant read, ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this book from Goodreads. It's not a genre I usually read because it's a romantic, historical fiction and I usually read mysteries. I'm always looking for new authors to read and this peeked my curiosity.
This Girl From The Paradise Ballroom is about the struggles of an Italian-British family trying to survive despite their homeland country being at war with their new country. It's also the story of forbidden love not only between Antonio and Olivia but between Filomena and Constable Harke
I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley/Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.

This book was different than the description, but I still liked it. I think the romance part was weak, but it was interesting to learn about how England treated Italian immigrants before and during World War II. The character development could have been stronger, and the ending fell a little flat for me. Overall, I do not feel like I wasted my time reading it, but I think there are better World War
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Alison Love is a novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, Mallingford, published in the UK and Germany, was described in The Times as ‘the kind of book that reminds one why people still like reading novels’, while her second, Serafina, is set amidst the political intrigues of 13th century Amalfi. Her latest novel, The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom, has been published in the UK, the USA ...more