Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Under a Dancing Star” as Want to Read:
Under a Dancing Star
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Under a Dancing Star

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,317 ratings  ·  207 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
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Under a Dancing Star, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,317 ratings  ·  207 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Under a Dancing Star
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. Her writing is appropriately cheeky and wryly observed. The side effect is that it sometimes strays instead into the obnoxious. This one is too cringey to be indulgent - and that’s why Under a Dancing Star made me gag a little.

The novel attempts to fill a gap in Much Ado About Nothing: Benedick and Beatrice clearly have some sort of history and this is an imaginative leap/prequel. Nice idea, I likey. Rather than infusing her prose with
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. ...more
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! It was so unique! It’s about a girl named Bea who lives in England and her parents ship her off to live with her uncle in Italy so she can become more ladylike (it’s set in the 1930’s)! In reality her uncle is engaged and his fiancé is friends with a bunch of painters and writers who also live with them! Bea joins them and it’s basically a bunch of people living together and having a lot of fun! There is romance (obviously) and it’s SO cute! It made me laugh out loud and say a ...more
Beth, BooksNest
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr
I LOVED the Much Ado About Nothing film as a kid, based of course off of the Shakespeare play. This book takes on one of the character paths from this play and follows the story of Beatrice and Benedick, who have a love-hate relationship throughout the book. Bea is a 17-year-old girl sent to Italy by her parents to be watched over by her Uncle, who has started to tread slightly down the bohemian path. Her Uncle's house has become home to many artists, which is how Bea meets Ben and so the journe ...more
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
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. ...more
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
Catherine Doyle
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dreamy and utterly absorbing, I loved this.
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. ...more
Megan  (thebookishtwins)
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. ...more
✨ Evie ✨
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laura Wood's books are like delicious snacks. I absolutely cannot get enough of them, and it's infuriating how underrated they are!
I had so much fun reading this book. The banter in here was a freaking work of art! I need more Much Ado About Nothing retellings' greatness in my life.
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
Much Ado About Nothing plus 1930s is basically my perfect romance and I really enjoyed this one.
I love Laura Wood's historical romances and whilst I preferred her first, I read this really quickly and I loved the Bohemian setting and the banter between Bea and Ben.
I did start to lose a bit of interest around halfway in, but when the politics of the decade were introduced I found it really interesting and it added an interesting dimension.
I also loved the ending and though I would love to see wha
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*
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is surely going to be my book of the year. I loved every minute of this story. The ending! So clever, so very clever. I could have clapped out loud when I finished reading this brilliant book. Loved it!
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is way too underrated and should get so much more love.
Not only is it one of the best shakespeare retellings I’ve ever read, it’s also funny, very sweet, realistic, and touches some dark subjects.

It’s an absolute masterpiece, read it
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really am giving this book a 4.75 because I enjoyed reading this book, and the author is one of my favorites, but there was just way too much emphasis on the physical attraction. Which I am not a big fan in the books I read. I like to learn about the trials that lead up to them meeting, or the reason why they can’t stop thinking about the other person, and most importantly when and why they fell in love! In her first book she definitely emphasized this more because it was set up as friends bef ...more
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
2.5 stars

honeyyyy, this ain't it.

okay but like the first half of this book was cheff's kiss. there was a beautiful setting of italy, and this seemingly slow burn romance, and some delightful atmosphere created. and then

this book tried to do to much all at once.

icba to go through everything rn BUT

-politics - look i'm a history nerd. when i saw the word mussolini? i was pumped for some great indepth exploration of facism. buuut it's half-baked and thrown in for no reason at al apart from historica
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.
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
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wasn't very impressed with this book.

Perhaps since I know nothing about Much Ado About Nothing and the historical context, but the romance itself was 0% compelling or believable. And this is supposed to be a romance novel.

I feel this book was quite surface-level in the sense that it didn't really dig deeper into the romance, the relationships, and the characters - at least, not as much as I would've liked to see. Although I liked the main character, the rest of the cast seemed unbearably und
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
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 abo
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Okay... where to start with this book. Firstly, Laura Wood's choice of characterisers was amazing. I absolutely adored Bea and her headstrong and powerful personality, as well as Ursula's self-confidence and amusing personality. I always enjoy the presence of strong, female characters. The males also didn't disappoint, I thought Ben's arrogance at the beginning was endearing due to its dissipation under the force of his relationship with Bea.

The idea of the 'experiment' amused me and I despite
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 s
I really enjoyed this. It was very addicting and I really enjoyed the interactions between Beatrice and Ben. I am conflicted about the ending though. It felt unsatisfactory even though I did see it coming but I feel like (view spoiler) I wish it had been expanded upon or we actually got to see what happens next because I feel cheat ...more
Elizabeth Emily Browne
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction is not my usual genre however I received it in a book box so I thought I would give it a try and I am so glad that I did. I absolutely loved this book. The relationship between Bea and Ben is one of the best things about this book. The other is how much Bea knows her own mind. How in that time she wouldn't let people change her mind no matter how many times they told her that what she was doing wasn't proper.

This book is set in the 1930's just before the start of WW2 and it wa
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Heartstream
  • Read with Pride (The Paper & Hearts Society, #2)
  • The Pure Heart
  • Everything is Fine
  • Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle #1)
  • Mina and the Undead
  • Splinters of Scarlet
  • The Fowl Twins (The Fowl Twins, #1)
  • The Pearl in the Ice
  • The Secret Chapter (The Invisible Library, #6)
  • Hold Back the Tide
  • I, Cosmo
  • Sorcery of Thorns
  • Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch, #2)
  • The Company of Eight
  • The Glass Hotel
  • Perfectly Preventable Deaths
  • Slay
See similar books…
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,

Related Articles

Chloe Gong has a lot going on. In addition to releasing her debut YA novel, These Violent Delights, in the midst of a pandemic, she's also...
78 likes · 9 comments
“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.” 2 likes
More quotes…