What is love anyway?
Reviewed by: jesse s. hanson
Rating; 4 out of 5 stars
Judy Croome’s spiritual fiction work, “Dancing in the Shadows of Love,” is a fine example of how fiction can be an attractive medium for conveying an intended message. “The driving motivation of my characters is the search for love in all its forms.”
Story: In the haunting Dancing in the Shadows of Love, three emotionally adrift women fight to heal their fractured worlds. Not everyone can be a hero. Or can they? (from Goodreads.com)
My take: Set in South Africa, Judy has created a spiritual enclave—the Court of St Jerome—that proves to be the point of convergence of the principal characters, three of whom are women of diversely troubled backgrounds. All three are indeed seekers of love, but to find or obtain love, they must first learn what true love is. The lessons are often exquisitely painful; and they are, I think, uniquely feminine lessons.
In truth, Dancing in the Shadows of Love is a very feminine story. At times, I felt somehow embarrassed while reading, as if I was included in conversations/thought processes inappropriate for my male presence in them. In any case, the writing is very good—if the character’s thought processes seem slightly redundant on certain points, it is perhaps so in keeping with the redundancy of the mind, which maddeningly returns to the same issues again and again.
The novel is also one of insistent symbolism. This aspect of the work, I wasn’t quite sure if I liked. The symbols are quite clear, for the most part (to my mind they were obvious references to Christianity and Catholicism), but the use of alternate terms, for instance, was perhaps necessary for Croome to convey her own notions of love and spirituality without the constrictions of religious convention (the book is not religion fiction). I would perhaps have liked to see her find a way to write directly within the context of Christianity, since it seemed so present anyway, but I’m not harboring any real judgment in that regard. Anyway, maybe I wouldn’t have chosen to read it if she had. For a first novel, her approach and her execution are very admirable.
Ultimately, each of the three characters learns the lessons she needs to learn. Do they find love, any or all of them? Well I won’t say. Is it a love story? Yes. Is it a unique love story? I do think so. It is well worth reading. I recommend it to those who are interested in exploring the question: What is love anyway?
As always, I hate using the stars, but I’m giving it four of them. Have to save some room to go up as I expect Judy Croome’s writing to get even better.
Dancing in the Shadows of Love by Judy Croome
Published by Aztar Press, July 1, 2011
Paperback, 255 pages
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Guest reviewer: Jesse S. Hanson is a North Dakota (rural Midwest USA) native, writer/musician, currently living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He has also lived for a considerable time in the Pacific Northwest (USA) and briefly in the Southwest (USA). “… I suppose restlessness is a part of my nature. I’m never quite at home anywhere in the world. And that is part of why spirituality is the focus of all my writing.” His novel, Song of George/Portrait of an Unlikely Holy Man was published with All Things That Matter Press in July, 2010. Jesse is currently working on a second novel and is also compiling a collection of his song lyrics and poetry, with the intention of publishing a combined volume.