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Under a Dancing Star

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  202 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In grey, 1930s England, Bea has grown up kicking against the conventions of the time, all the while knowing that she will one day have to marry someone her parents choose - someone rich enough to keep the family estate alive. But she longs for so much more - for adventure, excitement, travel, and maybe even romance.

When she gets the chance to spend the summer in Italy with
Kindle Edition, 356 pages
Published July 4th 2019 by Scholastic UK
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4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  202 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Lucy Powrie
I read Laura Wood's debut YA, A Sky Painted Gold, earlier in 2019 and fell in love with it. It was my perfect idea of a book: historical fiction, with a romance to die for and a female heroine it was impossible not to fall in love with. Laura Wood even started my love for Eva Ibbotson's books and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, which I'll forever be grateful for.

So, it's safe to say, I was a tiny bit excited to read Under a Dancing Star. And by a tiny bit, I mean "I thought about reading it
Lauren James
Under A Dancing Star by Laura Wood* - Disclaimer: Laura is my pal. But I made her be my friend because I'm OBSESSED WITH HER BOOKS. They're the perfect comfort reads which just speak to my soul. This one is no exception - a PREQUEL to MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING set in THE THIRTIES in ITALY in an ARTIST'S COMMUNE. UM?!?!?!?!? Excellent. In every way. I have so many thoughts about Ben and Bea, and the misshapen way they fit together during the book, and in the future. I want a sequel, obviously.
Wood evidently strives to emulate Shakespeare’s acerbic wit, but strays instead into the obnoxious - and that’s why Under a Dancing Star made me gag a little.

The plot is very much derivative of Much Ado About Nothing as opposed to using the source material as an inspiration. Rather than infusing her prose with the themes or conflicts of the play, Wood makes its ancestry abundantly clear - the consequence of which is that Under a Dancing Star reads like starstruck fanfiction. Perhaps the Shakespe
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laura Wood does know how to write an excellent retelling, especially set during summer.

This is a fun retelling of Much Ado About Nothing (William Shakespeare). It is predictable yes, but then if you are reading a love story set in Italy in 1933 in a villa full of artists you don't want a tragedy. So it delivered.

It is perfect if you want something light to read on a sunny (or not so sunny) day. I know that for Laura Wood is definitely a perfect author to read during summer.
Sally S
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A dreamy and romantic summer read - with a little more seriousness than I was expecting (but that's certainly no criticism considering the time in which it is set). Plus Much Ado is my favourite Shakespeare.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's no secret that I love Much Ado About Nothing, Italy, and books with artsy people. This had all three of those (plus an absolutely stunning cover) and I really enjoyed this overall.

First off: Bea and Ben is one of my OTPs and I loved this take on their relationship - any form of fake dating can get it. I also liked that this addressed some of what happened in 1933, but I think it remained too simplistic while trying to portray various points of view - same as with Bea not adhering to the tr
Catherine Doyle
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dreamy and utterly absorbing, I loved this.
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
I am in head-over-heels in love with Laura Wood’s YA historical fiction. Last year I fell in love with 1920s Cornwall in A SKY PAINTED GOLD, and this year I was whisked away to sun-swept Tuscany in the 1930s.

Inspired by Much Ado About Nothing, with a heroine reminiscent of Sybil from Downton Abbey and a lazy Italian summer setting evoking other works such as Call Me By Your Name, UNDER A DANCING STAR is a beautiful novel about a girl finding her place in the world and deciding to take control of
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read
4.5/5 stars
Amy McCaw
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Sky Painted Gold was my favourite book of last year so my expectations were exceptionally high for Under a Dancing Star. Somehow, it managed to exceed all of them and I loved it even more than A Sky Painted Gold. It's another deliciously dreamy, romantic and summery book.

The romance is my absolute favourite thing about it. Laura Wood crafts connections and chemistry between characters so beautifully. The mounting tension between Bea and Ben is incredible and I don't have the words for how goo
Bella (Cheezyfeet Books)
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so nice! I really loved Bea, I loved her fire and her determination to be who she wanted to be and loved seeing her grow into herself more as the story went on. It’s set in such a dreamy Italian setting, I can’t wait to go on holiday now and just relax and enjoy the sun and the relaxation like Bea does. This book totally warmed my cold heart and the romantic in me adored it - the characters, the setting, everything. I love Laura’s writing and can’t wait for more from this fab author ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Honestly, there were so many hidden gems in this book - characters, moments, descriptions, settings bits of dialogue, plus that ENDING...I'm emotional. However, I think there should have been MORE of those things, and honestly the brief little glimpse into the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe was sooo interesting, I was disappointed we didn't get just a TAD bit more. More antagonism between Bea and Ben too (heh).

Overall though, a seriously great retelling of Much Ado that still had a whole life
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
"You always end with a jade's trick. I know you of old."

The YA prequel to Much Ado About Nothing I didn't know I needed, telling the story of Benedick's "jade's trick". This was always going to be my bookish jam! Sun-drenched, snarky and gloriously romantic, this is the best romance I'll read this summer for sure!
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was heavenly. the last fifteen pages or so i had to keep closing it and staring at the ceiling to absorb what i was reading. the epilogue!!! sex positive characters!!! lesbians!!!

much ado is my favourite shakespeare play and frankly this was a beautiful addition to the lore of one of the best literary couples ever written.
Chloe Trotter
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Much ado about nothing is my favourite Shakespeare piece so I had high standards that were all met in this story. I love the teasing, the fun insults and only wish there was more to read. The natural history and artist twist honestly called out to me.
Beth Knight
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning, swooning and full of bite.

Much Ado is my favourite Shakespeare play and Laura Wood has written a splendid imagining of the much referenced previous acquaintance between Benedick and Beatrice transposing it into 1930s Italy rather than 1500s.

Thank you for not letting me down.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I absolutely adored this. Fans of Laura Wood's A Sky Painted Gold will not be disappointed - in fact, I think I loved this one just a tiny bit more. Bea and Ben's romance is a joy to watch unfold, but it is Bea's wit and charm that I really fell in love with. The perfect summer holiday read.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I LOVE LAURA WOOD HER BOOKS WHY IS N O B O D Y TALKING ABOUT THEM!!!! The setting of her books is so good and totally sucks you up and I love the characters and their coming-of-age stories (in both books).

This book is set in the 30s in Italy and I love the atmosphere created by Laura Wood. The characters are so well written and I love their development.

In contrast to her last book this one had a political theme (Mussolini) and it deals with how it shapes Italy while still being such a magical b
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookbox-books
I was not entirely sure what to expect from this book. I'm not really into romance novels and therefore I was a little on the fence. But, luckily I had a group of lovely girls to read this book with, because I actually did end up loving and enjoying it.

The book is based on much ado about nothing. I have to admit, my Shakespeare knowledge is seriously lacking, so I'm not familiar with the original tale, but I do remember that this was one of Shakespeare's comedies. And that comedy tone, even thou
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-box-club
I genuinely went into this book very unsure. I’ve had a couple of poor experiences with Shakespeare retellings and I really don’t get on with historical fiction, generally.

So when I say how much I enjoyed this book, I need you to know I mean it. It is fun and light hearted but with some really strong moments of truth - the two I remember know are a silly one about pockets (joy!) and a much more serious one about nationalism that is so accurate it hurt. Laura manages to capture the whimsy and co
Letitia Fowler
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Imagine my excitement when I found out Laura Wood was realising a second book mere weeks after I read A Sky Painted Gold!

I immediately put Under a Dancing Star on a pedestal as A Sky Painted Gold was soooo friggin good! There for the bar was set and it was quite high 😂 (Don’t worry, my expectations were met)

Like her previous book, Wood has once again captured my heart with her whimsical storytelling - everything is so beautifully described in a way where you are transported to that exact time an
Amy (Golden Books Girl)
I thought Laura Wood`s YA debut from 2018 was amazing, and I`ve been looking forward to her new one since it was announced. It`s a prequel to Shakespeare`s Much Ado About Nothing (which I`m now tempted to read so I can see Bea and Ben get a happy ending!), and sees Bea and Ben fall in love over the course of a bohemian summer in Italy, even though the romance was initially supposed to be fake, on account of a challenge from their friends. Like A Sky Painted Gold, my favourite thing about this wa ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a top notch book in the YA fiction world. And it also stands strong beyond it, too. I love its unapologetic rewriting of Shakespeare's Much Ado (acting as a prequel to the play) setting the scene of Bea + Ben's earlier meeting. The relationship between the pair is beautiful, sure maybe it lacks the sharpness of Shakespeare's wit, but it still provides many moments of giggles and warmth and a desire to want more from this pairing.

What gives the book added depth is its socio-political cont
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booktails
Bea and Ben are so perfect for each other. Exactly what the other needs to balance them out. The romantic letter Ben writes is just the best thing ever! And Bea trying on trousers for the first time articulates exactly how I feel (Pockets! What a delight.). I think Bea is one of my favourite heroines, she's so feisty and has the best sense of humour. I enjoyed the book so much I finished almost the whole thing on the plane home. Then had nothing else to read as I hadn't expected to get through i ...more
Olivia Fellows
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just an absolute delight. Bea is wonderful, Ben is full of himself without being annoying, the rise of fascism is acknowledged without looming heavily over the entire book (Bea's narration as a seventeen year old not directly affected is believable as being aware of but not overwhelmed), and the whole atmosphere of a remote villa in Italy in summer is a dreamy, hazy delight. Definitely going to be looking out for more from Laura Wood.

(plus the cover is beautiful, plus I adored (view spoiler)
Alexandra Page
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yet again, Lucy Wood has written a timeless romance that envelopes you and is very hard to put down. The way she describes, so sensually and with such original descriptions, the Ville de Stelle in Italy, is worthy of ‘Chocolat’, while the fledgling romance between Bea and Ben quickens your pulse and stirs (for me) very real memories from my own experience of first love many years ago! Wood is now firmly one of my favourite authors.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe 2019 is the year of good stories ourside of my comfort zone for me as I adored this a lot. The writing style was easy and light, the characters engaging and likeable and the setting was very vivid and described perfectly. Bea was a delight and I could easily imagine her and Ben. I do have to say Much Ado About Nothing is my fave shakespeare and this was a lovely interpretation of a prequel of sorts. Def 5 stars for me.
Georgina Power
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ok I enjoyed this book so much more that I thought I would I will not lie. It was such a lovely ready, so charming and funny. I love the fact that the main female character is an intelligent and strong lead character and I love the fact that we go on her journey of self discover I guess, I just adored the book, and the ending it just leaves me wanting more stories surround Bea & Ben, plus I need to know what happens to Filomena!
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Laura Wood is the winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children's Writing and the author of the 'Poppy Pym' and 'Vote for Effie' middle-grade series and YA novels, A Sky Painted Gold and Under a Dancing Star.

She loves Georgette Heyer novels, Fred Astaire films, travelling to far flung places, recipe books, Jilly Cooper, poetry, cosy woollen jumpers, Edith Nesbit, crisp autumn leaves,