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Under a Dancing Star

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  102 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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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  535 ratings  ·  102 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
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.
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
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.
Hannah (flippingchapters)
Another Laura Wood novel that did not disappoint. This was just a pleasant surprise and I love every single bit of it! Just like A Sky Painted Gold, I think I can reread the novel over and over again:’)

From today on, Laura Wood is one of my auto-buy authors!
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
Catherine Doyle
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dreamy and utterly absorbing, I loved this.
Megan  (YABookers)
I really loved Laura Wood's other novel A Sky Painted Gold and she did not disappoint with Under a Dancing Star. It is a quick read - romantic, atmospheric, dazzling, and enthralling. A perfect book to read laying around the pool.
Rodah  Hesham
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was so so so cute I’m crying, it’s my first time reading a historical fiction book. I loved it!!!! I honestly want to read more of this genre. By the way, Laura wood’s writing is really addictive and easy to get into I’m so glad I read this.

*now watch me add every book she’s written on my tbr list*
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
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.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I originally rated this five stars after reading it, but months later I don't feel as excited about it as I once did, and there are other books that I read this year that I gush about more.
It was still an enjoyable read and I would recommend it.
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.
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
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
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The idea is as paper-thin and fragile as the wings of a butterfly, and as it flutters gently awake I hardly dare to hold it still in my mind." -Laura Wood

After finishing A Sky Painted Gold I knew I had to read Under a Dancing Star. And I'm so glad I did.

The Characters:
Our main character is a girl named Beatrice who comes from a high-class English family and loves biology. She is a total tomboy and gets in a lot of trouble. But I really loved her! She was a very interesting character to read
Beatrice longs to study science but her parents believe this is improper for a young woman who should instead be keeping up the family name. When her antics go too far, they send Beatrice to Italy to live with her uncle and cousin. Yet the relaxed culture and beautiful historic scenery is exactly the adventure Beatrice craves.

After a rocky start, Beatrice decides to make a deal with a local artist, Ben, who is also living on her uncle's estate for the summer. What Beatrice needs is a exciting
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
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 ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book all in a day, before and after work, and it was just lovely! It had all the best bits of ‘much ado about nothing’, particularly Benedick and Beatrice’s relationship (makes me want to rewatch the Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson film again too), but also cleverly set in the 1930s and still a new story of its own - I particularly loved Bea and the things she came out with in ‘polite society’ - highly recommended:)
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.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-author
*4.5 stars*

I loved this. Spectacularly romantic, charming, funny and clever - I love Laura Wood’s stories and beautiful writing.
Jessikah Hope
Beautifully written but it felt like there were no stakes, problems or obstacles. It sounds crazy but this was a bit too happy.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The perfect summer read, full of romance and Italian charm!

As always Wood's book left me wanting more and inspired me to pursue what I want most out of life!

I just adore her writing and hope for many more books in the future.
Rosanna Threakall
I loved this with my whole heart. Totally dreamy. Easily a fav of 2019
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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,
“The idea is as paper-thin and fragile as the wings of a butterfly, and as it flutters gently awake I hardly dare to hold it still in my mind.” 0 likes
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