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Pretending to Dance

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Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her. As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but he Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her. As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge. Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders. Told with Diane Chamberlain's compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.

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Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her. As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but he Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her. As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge. Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders. Told with Diane Chamberlain's compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.

30 review for Pretending to Dance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Norma * Traveling Sister

    3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars!   Judy Blume’s Forever & Johnny Depp need I say more…….   Why I wanted to read this one……Diane Chamberlain is one of my favourite authors and I always like to pick up one of her novels to change up the pace between all the thrillers/suspense novels that I read.  I really like her writing style as it always flows so naturally, and her novels are always enjoyable, ingenious, easy to follow along, and engaging stories with relatable and loveable characters.   Thoughts 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars!   Judy Blume’s Forever & Johnny Depp need I say more…….   Why I wanted to read this one……Diane Chamberlain is one of my favourite authors and I always like to pick up one of her novels to change up the pace between all the thrillers/suspense novels that I read.  I really like her writing style as it always flows so naturally, and her novels are always enjoyable, ingenious, easy to follow along, and engaging stories with relatable and loveable characters.   Thoughts & what it's all about…   PRETENDING TO DANCE by DIANE CHAMBERLAIN is a wonderful, interesting, engaging, and an entertaining read here that transported me right into the lives of all the characters.  Although, the mystery from the past was not too hard to figure out it still didn’t take away any of the drama from the big reveal for me. There is some family drama, love, humor, hidden secrets, lies, betrayal, and a past mystery that kept me interested enough throughout this whole story.   The story is told in two alternating timelines from the perspective of our main character, present Molly and 14 year old Molly. Molly is married and a successful lawyer who is in the process of adopting a baby with her husband.  From 14 year-old Molly we learn her backstory from when her and her family resided on their family plantation, Morrison Ridge which brings both stories together of what happened one summer from the past into the present for an emotional and heart-wrenching read.   What I liked…..I really liked the title of this book and learning the powerful meaning behind it.  I also really enjoyed 14 year-old Molly as it brought back quite a few memories of my childhood and the references of Judy Blume’s book Forever and the crush she had on Johnny Depp was quite humorous.   What I didn't like…..The story was a little predictable and did somewhat drag for me but nevertheless I did enjoy it.  The book just wasn’t as gripping as some of her others that I have read.   To sum it all up it was a compelling, steady-paced, and an enjoyable read with a heartwarming and touching ending. Would recommend!!   Review written and posted on our themed book blog: Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    Unfortunately , even though I have enjoyed a couple of Chamberlain's novels , especially Necessary Lies , this one just did not grab me . I liked the prequel much more than the novel . The story moves back and forth between Molly's life in San Diego as an adult and her teen age life in Morrison Ridge , NC. Way too much time was spent on her teenage years and while this is when the secrets of her past are divulged , the ones that she has kept from her husband , it was just too YA . I felt like I Unfortunately , even though I have enjoyed a couple of Chamberlain's novels , especially Necessary Lies , this one just did not grab me . I liked the prequel much more than the novel . The story moves back and forth between Molly's life in San Diego as an adult and her teen age life in Morrison Ridge , NC. Way too much time was spent on her teenage years and while this is when the secrets of her past are divulged , the ones that she has kept from her husband , it was just too YA . I felt like I was reading a teenage girl's diary - boyfriends, pot , sneaking around - actually quite boring in places. The issue of open adoption in the present story is an interesting one but I found it a bit of a stretch to compare it to Molly's situation with Graham and Nora and Amalia. To me they were not exactly the same thing and it seemed the author was trying to equate them . (view spoiler)[ Certainly there are other relevant issues here such as assisted suicide. (hide spoiler)] A predictable ending and I felt as if I was watching a soap opera , but die hard Diane Chamberlain fans may love it . I rounded up to 3 stars because I was interested enough in seeing the story through to the end. Would I read another by Diane Chamberlain? I would . Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    4.5 Stars THE DANCE BEGINS set the stage, and now we find out.........What REALLY happened on Morrison Ridge? The shocking and heartbreaking truth comes out as a fourteen year old Molly tells the story of the close and loving relationship with her disabled father and their unusual, complicated life on Morrison Ridge.As the narrative unfolds, and the secret family meetings begin without her, a naive Molly finds a "wild" new friend who introduces her to a cute older guy and educates her about the 4.5 Stars THE DANCE BEGINS set the stage, and now we find out.........What REALLY happened on Morrison Ridge? The shocking and heartbreaking truth comes out as a fourteen year old Molly tells the story of the close and loving relationship with her disabled father and their unusual, complicated life on Morrison Ridge.As the narrative unfolds, and the secret family meetings begin without her, a naive Molly finds a "wild" new friend who introduces her to a cute older guy and educates her about the facts of life (via a Judy Blume book entitled FOREVER) culminating in a horrific "night from hell" that changes her happy, innocent life in more ways than one.PRETENDING TO DANCE alternates chapters with an easy flow between a young Molly and a happily married, yet troubled adult Molly who relates her struggles to adopt a child, ultimately revealing the hidden underlying reasons for her fear.While very YA and predictable at times, this emotional, coming-of-age mystery is filled with secret twists and important issues (with great discussion possibilities) that lead to a befitting ending that upped my rating to 5 Stars. Oh, and I hate this stupid disease too!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Beautifully written story about family, secrets, and the fall-out from keeping these secrets hidden. Meet Molly-happily married, successful lawyer who has just started the process of looking to adopt a baby with her husband. While giving background information to the agency, Molly tells her first lie, saying her Mother is dead. What other lies will she have to tell about her family history, and why? The next chapter you meet 14 year old Molly. Living on the family compound, caught between that age Beautifully written story about family, secrets, and the fall-out from keeping these secrets hidden. Meet Molly-happily married, successful lawyer who has just started the process of looking to adopt a baby with her husband. While giving background information to the agency, Molly tells her first lie, saying her Mother is dead. What other lies will she have to tell about her family history, and why? The next chapter you meet 14 year old Molly. Living on the family compound, caught between that age where the child is still fighting to exist but the teenager is taking over. What happens this summer is the main focus of the story, told from her point of view, and slowly builds to the ultimate betrayal that distances her from her family from that moment on. I'm not going to lie, I did have a couple of 'sniff sniff's' when I got to the chapters where past and present finally collide. While I wasn't a big fan of mature Molly, I was completely sucked in Molly's story, taking me back to my first memories of boys, Judy Blume's Forever, and leaving my childhood behind. On the heavy side is the story with her parents, all 3 of them. While I was able to figure out what was going, it still didn't take away from the drama of the big reveal. The emotions felt real, the dialogue was realistic and not over the top. This is my favorite Chamberlain book to date and I highly recommend to all book lovers of any genre. ARC from NetGalley

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Pretending to Dance is a women's fiction novel written by Diane Chamberlain. This story is told from the past and present perspective of the main character: Molly. The revolving time frames work flawlessly as the reader witnesses how events in her adolescence follow her into adulthood like a shadow. Life seems to come full circle for Molly and she must address the secrets and lies associated with her past if she wants to move forward. Focal themes include coming of age, adoption, marriage, famil Pretending to Dance is a women's fiction novel written by Diane Chamberlain. This story is told from the past and present perspective of the main character: Molly. The revolving time frames work flawlessly as the reader witnesses how events in her adolescence follow her into adulthood like a shadow. Life seems to come full circle for Molly and she must address the secrets and lies associated with her past if she wants to move forward. Focal themes include coming of age, adoption, marriage, family estrangement, and quality of life issues. Pretending to Dance was so very, very good. I felt consistently engaged and when I cried, my tears felt endless. The subject of adoption is close to my heart and the emotional complexity of this part of the story was palpable. Pretending to Dance is one of my favorite Chamberlain books to date, and the audiobook performance is excellent. If you enjoy women's fiction/drama, please don't miss this one. My favorite quote: "It’s hard to move on if you don’t forgive. It’s like trying to dance with a lead weight on your shoulders. The anger can weigh you down forever."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain is a marvelous family drama full of love, secrets and betrayals that will totally transport you into the lives of her characters. Having read only “Necessary Lies”, which I loved, I was intrigued to read a review copy of her newest book, “Pretending to Dance”. And I was not disappointed. This was one emotional read, a combination of family drama, mystery, and secrets. Time stood still as I read this novel. Molly Arnette, a successful lawyer and her loving PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain is a marvelous family drama full of love, secrets and betrayals that will totally transport you into the lives of her characters. Having read only “Necessary Lies”, which I loved, I was intrigued to read a review copy of her newest book, “Pretending to Dance”. And I was not disappointed. This was one emotional read, a combination of family drama, mystery, and secrets. Time stood still as I read this novel. Molly Arnette, a successful lawyer and her loving husband, Aiden, living in San Diego are trying to adopt a baby because they can't have a child on their own. But the process of adoption brings up many questions about Molly's past and her family, the family she left behind in North Carolina twenty years go. She is forced to confront the many skeletons in her closet. “The mother she says is dead but who is very much alive. The father she adored and whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison's Ridge. Her own birth mother whose mysterious presence in her family raised so many issues that came to a head.” Everything changed twenty years ago. Molly learned to lie in the very family that taught her about pretending. Her husband knows nothing about her past or any of her family. She pretends they are all dead. She has secrets. The novel switches back and forth, from Molly in North Carolina, living at home as a fourteen- year old teenager in 1990, to the present day in San Diego. The reader gets to see the relationships she had with her adoptive mother Nora, her birth mother Amalia, and her beloved father Graham. I adored the relationship she had with her father. The reader has no clue what happened back in North Carolina to drive her away. Molly must make peace with the past, in order to move on in her own life. Diane Chamberlain's insight as a former social worker and psychotherapist is evident in her writing, adding emotion and depth to complex family dynamics. This was one emotional read. I shed many a tear. Keep the tissues handy. Many thanks to Ms. Chamberlain, St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for the Arc.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I wish to thank Net Galley, St. Martin’s Press, and Ms. Chamberlain for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review. I am relatively new to Diane Chamberlain, only having read The Silent Sister, which I loved, and the prequel to this novel, The Dance Begins. After reading those, I jumped at the chance to obtain a review copy of her newest book. Pretending to Dance did not disappoint. The story is told by 14-year-old Molly alternating with chapters narrated by the same charac I wish to thank Net Galley, St. Martin’s Press, and Ms. Chamberlain for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review. I am relatively new to Diane Chamberlain, only having read The Silent Sister, which I loved, and the prequel to this novel, The Dance Begins. After reading those, I jumped at the chance to obtain a review copy of her newest book. Pretending to Dance did not disappoint. The story is told by 14-year-old Molly alternating with chapters narrated by the same character at age 38. I connected much more with younger Molly who came of age during a summer of both joy and turbulence in the mountains of North Carolina. As an adult, she and her husband, unable to have children, are looking towards open adoption, but Molly’s efforts to fully embrace the idea are hindered by deep scars left from that fateful summer. I loved young Molly, but found it a bit difficult to accept the older Molly as the same person. True, she had experienced significant psychological trauma as a young teen and had failed to deal with those issues, but acknowledging that, I still had a problem seeing the two characters as one. I was drawn into the lives of several of the other characters, especially in the earlier timeframe. Molly’s father Graham, a child psychologist with advanced stage multiple sclerosis, is particularly well portrayed, as is his care attendant Russell. The relationship between Molly and Graham was the best part of the book for me. I was also fascinated by Graham’s psychological technique of “pretend therapy.” I thought as Molly matured, her reaction to the events of that tragic summer would mellow, but it did not. This seemed a bit unrealistic to me. I also did not love the last 4 lines of the book. Though I don’t think they are meant to be a downer, they certainly were to me, and I was disappointed. Having said all that, I need to stress that I loved reading this book. The meaning of the title is wonderful. The characters are well drawn, and the plot, though not entirely unpredictable, is compelling. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and read the last 20% sitting in front of The Voice, my favorite TV show. As far as ratings go, I would give young Molly 4.5 stars and adult Molly 3.5 stars for an average rating of 4.0 stars. I must mention that I am not always impressed with prequels, but I do think Before the Dance enriches the story of Pretending to Dance. I see this novel is labeled The Dance #1. I was delighted to see that and will definitely be on the lookout for book #2. Now firmly a fan of Ms. Chamberlain, I will also be reading more of her older works. I strongly recommend Pretending to Dance to all lovers of character-driven fiction.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judy Collins

    A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Love the cover... E X T R A O R D I N A R Y ! Top 50 Books of 2015. "2015 Best emotionally driven exploration of family, lies, secrets & moral dilemma (MS)." Diane Chamberlain once again delivers a bittersweet, and compelling suspense page-turner, PRETENDING TO DANCE, hooking you from page one to the end. 5 Stars+ “Must Read” not to be missed! “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but w A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Love the cover... E X T R A O R D I N A R Y ! Top 50 Books of 2015. "2015 Best emotionally driven exploration of family, lies, secrets & moral dilemma (MS)." Diane Chamberlain once again delivers a bittersweet, and compelling suspense page-turner, PRETENDING TO DANCE, hooking you from page one to the end. 5 Stars+ “Must Read” not to be missed! “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here, Let’s Dance!” PRETENDING TO DANCE offers a mix of coming-of-age and humor of Judy Blume and Jennifer Weiner; the complexity and highly charged topics of Jodi Picoult and Amy Hatvany; the heartwarming emotions and social issues of Emilie Richards and Kristin Hannah; combined with Chamberlain’s own unique style and talent of creating mystery, intrigue, suspense, healing, and complex family relationships, written with compelling prose, which we have come to expect from the author’s older to her newer books--keeping fans engaged, returning, and anxiously awaiting her next. In the prequel, THE DANCE BEGINS, set in the mountains of North Carolina in 1982, outside Asheville in Morrison Ridge Swannanoa, a family owned idyllic compound –one hundred acres. We are introduced to the Arnette family. Graham-father, Nora-mother, and six –year- old daughter, Molly and their extended family. Graham, the father is a remarkable man, psychologist, and author, with MS- Multiple sclerosis. His wife, Nora is a successful pharmacist, and Molly is the light of her father’s eye. They all enjoy their life on their land, a haven; and a springhouse (a special hideaway playhouse) for Molly. In order to get to there, they have to go up the Hill from Hell, a steep incline--and Graham’s aid, Russell a God-sent, always there to help out the family with their daily lives. Even with his disabilities, Graham has a wonderful outlook on life. He believes in Pretend Therapy visualizing; Comfort found from the joy of literature, art, dancing, or singing, to get through any of life’s struggles. As close as he comes now to dancing is the zip line they rigged up for him- as he will never fly through the air or will never dance again. Molly loves her dad and lives to make his life as comfortable as possible--she is her father’s princess. She cannot imagine her life without him. He could lift her spirits, change the mood of a room, ease sorrow, erase fear, diffuse anger, and at times she thought of him as a magician. In PRETENDING TO DANCE, we jump ahead to San Diego, CA where the story is focused on Molly, an attorney, (family law) where she is now a grown woman in her late thirties, married to Aidan— they are trying to adopt a baby, unable to have one of their own. When the intense family history questions arise, and background checks, Molly withholds the truth about her past, and fears they will surface; they could destroy not only her marriage, but her chance at adoption. Throughout the interviewing process, she struggles with deciding between open and closed adoption –can she handle the biological mother’s involvement? Molly has left her past behind. It is a mystery. Her husband knows nothing about her past or any of her family. She pretends they are all dead. She has secrets. She has had no communication with her family since she was eighteen, over twenty years ago, when leaving NC in her rear view mirror. She still has anger and rage thinking of her past. Will her past affect her decisions for the future? She is not forthcoming in her interviewing process about her family’s history. Yet she prides herself on honesty and communication skills. Slowly, chapter by chapter, Chamberlain skillfully weaves her magic; peeling back the layers, as we flash back and forth, from Molly in NC living at home as a teen, at age fourteen in 1990, to the present day in San Diego. Her life is a mystery and at the opening of the book-- readers have no clue what happened back in NC to drive her away, and close the doors to the childhood she loved and cherished. (You will be glued to the pages dying to find out what happened). No spoilers here. Molly will have to face her past and make peace in order to move on and embrace her future as a wife and mother, and the only remaining link is her cousin. Dani. With decisions to make in the present day, as she meets with the adoptive mother, the past and the present connect for an explosive discovery. Fun, Fun! Readers get to experience an overly protective native young girl embarking on an adult world, from Judy Blume’s books (hilarious), loved reference to Forever ... a 1975 novel by Blume dealing with teenage sexuality (this age range will have some good laughs, reminded of those tumultuous teen years.) From teen crushes, sneaking out, friends, fears, hair, clothes, makeup, image, peer pressure, concerts, pot, sex, boys, being caught in a trap, between childhood and adulthood, and an unconventional family--- all the while struggling with her father’s illness and taking the burden upon herself to protect him, pretending-- to ensure his happiness. However, her family may be protecting her, with secrets of their own. A facade to mask what lies beneath in order to protect one another? Loved the Highland Hospital Asheville NC (psychiatric facility/Zelda Fitzgerald) connection. Enjoyed Amalia’s bohemian free-spirted character; very different than Nora. NC native, always enjoy the settings, especially the mountain areas. Molly has a strong connection with her father, more so than her mother. She assists him with typing, and accompanies him on his book tours - they share a special bond with books and music. She loves her father more than anything in the world; however, typical of any teen, she struggles with her own identity, desires freedom, and rebels against her parents’ strict rules. From her free-spirited friend, Stacy (funny), to her hormones, with fantasies of Johnny Depp and New Kids on the Block, her life is a roller coaster. From teen to adult to motherhood, from blame, secrets, lies, guilt, grief, denial; struggles, disabilities and betrayal; a painful past--the ties which bind and make a dysfunctional family real, raw, and emotional love “unalterably unique” -- with complications, tragedies, loss, and love —etting the stage in preparation for new beginnings! Wow, this is a compelling "meant-to-be-read" in one sitting kinda book. I was busy with work, and had to steal precious moments; finding myself drawn, dying to get back to this suspenseful saga, and at the same time it is one you want to savor, like a piece of rich dark sweet chocolate. Crossing several genres from contemporary, coming-of-age, humor, young adult, suspense, mystery, family drama---from the young, middle age, to the older crowd – men and women alike will devour this one! Father-daughter fans will treasure the strong bond between these two, and the heartfelt letter you will laugh and cry at the same time. Keep the Kleenex handy. A long-time devoted fan, having read all Diane’s books, and one of my favorite authors—each book is special and unique. Not one of them is like the other. An impossible task choosing a favorite. A powerful journey, and an inspiring story. Fans will love the well-developed characters for a book you must read. My prediction – this one will hit the NY Times Bestseller List and I see a “movie”, based on this compelling story— only master storyteller Diane can tell. I enjoyed the inspiration behind the book and the connection with the author’s own family. As mentioned previously, influenced by the author’s former career as a social worker and psychotherapist, she has keen insights reflective throughout the pages of her writing, with suspenseful stories that will touch your heart and mind. Buy both they will change you, with unique characters which linger, long after the book ends. “It’s hard to move on if you don’t forgive. It’s like trying to dance with a lead weight on your shoulders. The anger can weigh you down forever.“ JDCMustReadBooks If you missed these two winners, you better go back and grab them! The Silent Sister Top Books of 2014 NECESSARY LIES Top Books of 2013 In addition, be sure and check out her latest, coming Oct 3, 2017 where the author takes us back to the South The Stolen Marriage. Top Books of 2017.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I always get a thrill when I pick up a Diane Chamberlain. I know that I am going to be totally transported into the lives of her characters and this read was no exception. Molly and Aiden are applying to adopt a baby and everything seems to be going smoothly with one exception. Aiden does not know that Molly has been lying to him all the time they have known each other about her family and now Molly is terrified that background checks will reveal the past and her unconventional upbringing. They I always get a thrill when I pick up a Diane Chamberlain. I know that I am going to be totally transported into the lives of her characters and this read was no exception. Molly and Aiden are applying to adopt a baby and everything seems to be going smoothly with one exception. Aiden does not know that Molly has been lying to him all the time they have known each other about her family and now Molly is terrified that background checks will reveal the past and her unconventional upbringing. They have always prided themselves on a marriage based on total honesty, and if Aiden were to find out the truth it could destroy the foundations of their relationship, let alone jeopardise their chance of having a family. To find out what Molly has been lying about, we have to go back in time to the summer of 1990 in North Carolina. I loved these sections of the book, especially the setting of a family community where three generations of the same family live side by side on Morrisons Ridge, an idyllic little patch of the country. Molly is 14 and is a little sheltered from the outside world but in most respects a normal teenager, with huge crushes on New Kids on the Block and Johnny Depp. Over the course of the summer we watch her budding friendship with local girl Stacie. When I tell you that Stacie is “14 going on 20” that is all you need to know about what you can expect from the girls over the summer before you actually read it for yourself. The main focus of this part of the book though is Mollie’s relationship with her father Graham. Graham is suffering from a very severe form of Multiple Sclerosis and needs constant round the clock care. Mollie and Graham have a very close loving father-daughter relationship which really shines out in the story. He tries to guide and advise her as well as he can and, for her part, Mollie just wants to make him happy. I am not going to say just what is unconventional about her upbringing, but she is being brought up in a situation which will give you pause for thought and make you wonder how you would have dealt with things. In all, it is a fabulous family drama full of love, secrets and betrayals that you can get totally lost in. Many thanks to the publishers via Netgalley for the review copy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ameena

    Obviously I am in the minority here but I didn't enjoy Pretending to Dance AT ALL. For the most part this book reminded me of a Judy Blume book, which I used to enjoy when I was a teenager, but now that I'm in my 30's? Not so much. I kept waiting for the book to get started, which it never did. I kept waiting for some likable characters, which I never found. I kept waiting for some kind of a point, which never happened. Instead I was subject to reading far too much about Molly's awkward and borin Obviously I am in the minority here but I didn't enjoy Pretending to Dance AT ALL. For the most part this book reminded me of a Judy Blume book, which I used to enjoy when I was a teenager, but now that I'm in my 30's? Not so much. I kept waiting for the book to get started, which it never did. I kept waiting for some likable characters, which I never found. I kept waiting for some kind of a point, which never happened. Instead I was subject to reading far too much about Molly's awkward and boring teenage years than I needed to. And the "twist" wasn't really a twist at all. I've enjoyed all of Diane Chamberlain's previous novels so I'm not sure what happened here, but I don't recommend Pretending to Dance at all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    4.5 Stars Wowza! Diane Chamberlain cannot write a bad book. She's a sure thing. So if you haven't yet discovered her, you really must. Pretending to Dance was heartfelt and full of family, secrets, compassion and anger. The relationship between father and daughter here was so, so special, it left me envious. Sigh....

  12. 5 out of 5

    ♡ Kim ♡

    Simply amazing! I absolutely loved this book! This is definitely going on my favorites list, and it may be tied for best book of the year for me. The narration alternates between adult Molly and 14 year old Molly. I loved how well defined the teenage Molly was portrayed, and I adored the relationship she had with her father. In the end, I could relate to the main character, both as an adult and child, and I even feel closer to my own dad. I am extremely grateful to have received an arc of Pretend Simply amazing! I absolutely loved this book! This is definitely going on my favorites list, and it may be tied for best book of the year for me. The narration alternates between adult Molly and 14 year old Molly. I loved how well defined the teenage Molly was portrayed, and I adored the relationship she had with her father. In the end, I could relate to the main character, both as an adult and child, and I even feel closer to my own dad. I am extremely grateful to have received an arc of Pretending to Dance - a truly, extraordinary book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dale Harcombe

    As this book starts out Aiden and Molly are living in San Diego, trying to adopt a child. The interview with the social worker is stressful for Molly because she is keeping secrets about her family. Secrets that when they came out cost her a chance at love before. Even though she feels guilty keeping secrets form her husband she believes she cannot afford to let them break free. From this opening the story goes back to Morrison Ridge North Carolina and fills in the story of Molly’s unusual famil As this book starts out Aiden and Molly are living in San Diego, trying to adopt a child. The interview with the social worker is stressful for Molly because she is keeping secrets about her family. Secrets that when they came out cost her a chance at love before. Even though she feels guilty keeping secrets form her husband she believes she cannot afford to let them break free. From this opening the story goes back to Morrison Ridge North Carolina and fills in the story of Molly’s unusual family situation and what led up to her being so determined to keep her secrets. Given the subject of adoption is one I am often drawn to, and the fact that I usually love Diane Chamberlain’s novels I expected to enjoy this a whole lot more than I did. My problems occurred largely with the amount of time the story spent in the past, the year Molly was fourteen when all her life changed dramatically. Sadly, there is just too much emphasis on her teenage rebellion, angst and sexual escapades. I lost interest in this very quickly and only kept reading, with quite a bit of skimming, to get back to the current day story of Aiden and Molly’s marriage and the child they are trying to adopt and Molly’s reservations about an open adoption. While I will no doubt continue to read this author’s work, I have to say this soap opera story is not one of her best. I wasn’t convinced by the characters and their behaviour or the ending. A lot of people will probably like it but it just wasn’t one I can recommend. Okay at best, cringe worthy in parts.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Myrna

    I have yet to pick up a Chamberlain book and be disappointed. Her stories are so touching. She manages to get the reader invested in the characters from the beginning and this novel was no exception. Besides great characters, the 1990s imaginary setting in Morrison Ridge, North Carolina was interesting. Would have loved growing up in a place like that. Pretending to Dance is worth the read with a message about love, forgiveness, growing up, and social issues. Plus, the author did a wonderful j I have yet to pick up a Chamberlain book and be disappointed. Her stories are so touching. She manages to get the reader invested in the characters from the beginning and this novel was no exception. Besides great characters, the 1990s imaginary setting in Morrison Ridge, North Carolina was interesting. Would have loved growing up in a place like that. Pretending to Dance is worth the read with a message about love, forgiveness, growing up, and social issues. Plus, the author did a wonderful job describing and researching what it’s like to watch someone suffer from an illness. Bravo Diane! Highly emotional ending that had me sobbing and ties everything together beautifully. There are many layers to this novel. Highly recommended.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    It’s a funny feeling - getting caught up in a story that I’m not totally enjoying, but still finding myself compelled enough to keep turning the pages. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the author’s writing style or even that the storyline was boring. I just found it to be incredibly odd. The half-truths and the family dynamics cast a strangeness over the entire story for me. The story follows Molly, a 38 year-old lawyer, who's on the verge of adopting a baby girl, but her past has sort of come back t It’s a funny feeling - getting caught up in a story that I’m not totally enjoying, but still finding myself compelled enough to keep turning the pages. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the author’s writing style or even that the storyline was boring. I just found it to be incredibly odd. The half-truths and the family dynamics cast a strangeness over the entire story for me. The story follows Molly, a 38 year-old lawyer, who's on the verge of adopting a baby girl, but her past has sort of come back to haunt her. The majority of the story is told from 14 year-old Molly, which sets the stage for the person she's become. It's her naivety that made it incredibly hard to connect with her character on any level and at a point became too much for me. On the other hand, maybe it was her naivety that kept me in the dark about what was truly going on for 60% of the book. Molly's father practiced “pretend therapy”, which is pretending until you believe or essentially 'faking it until you make it'. That’s one of the best ways to describe this story. A book pretending to be something it wasn’t - deep and dark, only to finish with a simplistic and predictable ending. Even though this wasn't my favorite book, it won't stop me from picking up some of her others.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    It is 2014, and in San Diego, CA, Aidan James and Molly Arnette are meeting with their social worker in preparation for being adoptive parents. After losing their birth daughter, Molly had a hysterectomy, and that loss has led to this frightening journey. Molly has many reasons for her fears, since she herself had an adoptive mother and a birth mother, both living in Swannanoa, NC, on a kind of compound called Morrison Ridge. But Molly’s childhood is a secret to everyone who knows her, including It is 2014, and in San Diego, CA, Aidan James and Molly Arnette are meeting with their social worker in preparation for being adoptive parents. After losing their birth daughter, Molly had a hysterectomy, and that loss has led to this frightening journey. Molly has many reasons for her fears, since she herself had an adoptive mother and a birth mother, both living in Swannanoa, NC, on a kind of compound called Morrison Ridge. But Molly’s childhood is a secret to everyone who knows her, including Aidan. The lies have mounted up, however, as her fears grow through the adoptive process. Meeting the birth mother Sienna and worrying about her place in the child’s life, since they plan an “open” adoption, Molly must confront the past. "Pretending to Dance" was an emotional journey for this reader. We follow Molly back into her past in alternate chapters, glimpsing her in 1990, as a fourteen year old girl during the “worst year of her life,” while also seeing the relationships she had with her adoptive mother Nora, her birth mother Amalia, and her beloved father Graham. Suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Graham had reached a point in his disease that required constant assistance. He maintained a therapy practice, however, which he dubbed “pretend therapy,” otherwise known as Cognitive Behavioral Self-Intervention. “If you pretend you’re the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person.” How did Molly’s “worst summer ever” lead to twenty-four years away from Morrison Ridge and the family she had known and loved? What events caused her to distance herself from the past and build up a wall of secrets and lies? What was the significance of the “family meetings” held regularly during that last summer? How did Molly’s rebellions further sever her familial ties? And now, years later, would Molly finally make peace with the past? To say that I absolutely loved this book would be an understatement. Glued to the pages, I laughed and wept with the characters who felt so real that I wish I could continue journeying with them. The end brought the kind of serenity I seek in a book, even as I didn’t know until the end how it would all come together. Recommended for fans of the author and for all who love great characters and a wonderful story. 5.0 stars. ***This e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Pretend, pretend, pretend and you most likely will talk yourself into thinking you will be able to do something or overcome some fear. Pretending about things was what Molly's family did. Her dad was a therapist, and that was his strategy with patients and the strategy that he brought to the family. PRETENDING TO DANCE goes back and forth in Molly's life as the reader shares her sorrows and joys as a child and as an adult. Her joys and sorrows as a child surround her parentage and growing up. Her Pretend, pretend, pretend and you most likely will talk yourself into thinking you will be able to do something or overcome some fear. Pretending about things was what Molly's family did. Her dad was a therapist, and that was his strategy with patients and the strategy that he brought to the family. PRETENDING TO DANCE goes back and forth in Molly's life as the reader shares her sorrows and joys as a child and as an adult. ​Her joys and sorrows as a child surround her parentage and growing up. Her joys and sorrows as an adult deal with keeping her past a secret from her husband and dealing with adopting a baby in an open adoption ​fashion. We also share secrets that she finds out about her family that forced her to move away and lie about her past to her husband. ​I actually didn't like Molly as an adult. As a child she made me nervous with decisions she made. I loved her father, Graham, and his caregiver, Russell. The other characters were sort of in the background but kept the story line connected. PRETENDING TO DANCE does drag a bit, but if you have read any of Ms. Chamberlain's other books, she always incorporates social issues into her books in a very intriguing way. PRETENDING TO DANCE wasn't a favorite for me, but it did feel like a mystery as I thought about all of the secrets Molly had to keep and that we had to find out and how Molly needed to pretend to be able to cope with issues. I love the title of the book....very pertinent. The ending was very emotional. Let me know what you think if you read PRETENDING TO DANCE. 4/5 This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    A quick, easy but interesting read. I've read four books by this author, and I really enjoy her style - more toned down that similar authors like Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah. I liked all the characters and found their actions believable. The story is alternates between the present, Molly and Aidan going through the qualifying process to adopt, and flashbacks to the past, the summer twenty four years ago when everything in Molly's life changed. I've never really thought about open adoption an A quick, easy but interesting read. I've read four books by this author, and I really enjoy her style - more toned down that similar authors like Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah. I liked all the characters and found their actions believable. The story is alternates between the present, Molly and Aidan going through the qualifying process to adopt, and flashbacks to the past, the summer twenty four years ago when everything in Molly's life changed. I've never really thought about open adoption and find the idea very intriguing. I also learned a lot about multiple sclerosis.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Diane Chamberlain never fails to keep me turning the pages and staying up past my bedtime. Having read almost all of her books, I can safely say that Chamberlain is an author that can easily captivate her reading audience by producing quality storytelling. In Pretending to Dance, the story's protagonist is Molly Arnette, a thirty something San Diego lawyer, who, along with her husband is looking to adopt a baby and have an open adoption. Similar to many of DC's characters, Molly is haunted by h Diane Chamberlain never fails to keep me turning the pages and staying up past my bedtime. Having read almost all of her books, I can safely say that Chamberlain is an author that can easily captivate her reading audience by producing quality storytelling. In Pretending to Dance, the story's protagonist is Molly Arnette, a thirty something San Diego lawyer, who, along with her husband is looking to adopt a baby and have an open adoption. Similar to many of DC's characters, Molly is haunted by her past. A past that she has( of course) not told her husband about. So, the story is heavily bent on drawing readers back to a 14 year old Molly and the summer that changed her life forever. Since I have, as I stated above, read a fair bit of this author, I could pretty much guess from the beginning of the story what the big event in Molly's young life was going to be( this made it three stars for me). I could connect with 14 year old Molly right down to her NKOTB obsession and her purple Doc Martens. However, it was a little irritating how drawn out the story line becomes and there is a lot of teenage drama with Molly that began to make the story a bit cliche. The wild best friend, the boy who uses her for sex, the conflict with her mother, Nora etc. IMHO, older Molly needed a "swift kick in the ass" and I did feel a bit of frustration with her for holding a grudge and I felt that the ending was a bit rushed towards finding a resolution to the story. Perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves and maybe I'll get a bit of flack for this is the portrayal of Molly's father. I felt that he was portrayed in such a cookie-cutter way. He was ALWAYS understanding of Molly. He ALWAYS had time for her. While I understand that this is all from Molly's point of view, I was a bit unsatisfied that even in her adulthood, she fails to see that he was far from the saint in which she made him out to be. A lot of reviewers often talk about the raw emotions that they feel when reading a book, Pretending to Dance had the ability to make me FEEL anger and frustration.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    First--Die hard Diane Chamberlain fans will disagree with me and LOve love love this book! that is ok! I have read almost all her books myself and they all get 3 to 5 stars (necessary lies was a favorite) Second--- Diane got teenage drama right! I did not like the self centered 14 year old Molly. Also I felt like I was an adult reading one of my Judy Blume books. Though the character Molly reads the Judy Blume book, forever to get pointers about sex, it felt very Young Adult. And that is ok to re First--Die hard Diane Chamberlain fans will disagree with me and LOve love love this book! that is ok! I have read almost all her books myself and they all get 3 to 5 stars (necessary lies was a favorite) Second--- Diane got teenage drama right! I did not like the self centered 14 year old Molly. Also I felt like I was an adult reading one of my Judy Blume books. Though the character Molly reads the Judy Blume book, forever to get pointers about sex, it felt very Young Adult. And that is ok to read when I know that is what I am reading, but I thought this was more about adoption and secrets and yet too much of the book centered on the youthful Molly. Third---What a predictable story once it got going, I knew what was going to happen just didn't know Molly would be so selfish about it. Her selfish behaviors and thoughts led to years she would never get back. Hey, we all deal with anger differently! Fourth---Her husband is a saint, so understanding and forgiving. Fifth--- My favorite characters were Nora, because she was accurate and knew her role, mother not friend. And I liked Sienna, honest and unsure about her situation. Let me explain, this is a book worthy to read. Based on Goodreads star rating, 3 stars is not bad (it means I liked it) so do not discourage by my rating. I refuse to be dishonest and give higher stars when I just don't feel it. As always I will look forward reading this authors books as I had preordered this and got it day it came out!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa B.

    Molly and her husband Aidan are trying to adopt. There is something in Molly’s past that is preventing her from being able to fully live in the present. Pretending to Dance is the story of what happened to Molly that one fateful summer and why it has impacted her life in such a significant way. It is not often that I feel compelled to immediately sit down to write a review. But with this story, I have no choice, although first I had to quit crying. Told in alternating chapters of Molly’s current l Molly and her husband Aidan are trying to adopt. There is something in Molly’s past that is preventing her from being able to fully live in the present. Pretending to Dance is the story of what happened to Molly that one fateful summer and why it has impacted her life in such a significant way. It is not often that I feel compelled to immediately sit down to write a review. But with this story, I have no choice, although first I had to quit crying. Told in alternating chapters of Molly’s current life and one summer when she was fourteen, eventually the past and present collide. I’m not certain why, but I connected with Molly from the very beginning. I liked her as an adult, but fell in love with her as a fourteen year old. What happened when Molly was fourteen was gut wrenching for me. It is only when she is an adult and discovers the real truth that she is able to put the past behind her and move on. This wasn’t so much of a roller coaster story, but a slow steady build up to an awesome ending. My goodness, how is it even possible this is my first read by this very talented author? As they say, better late than never. Off I go to pick another book by Ms. Chamberlain. I have a feeling she is going to be one of my go to authors when I want a guaranteed good read. Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, via Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review. Lucky me.......

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I've eagerly awaited this latest release by one of my favourite authors for quite some time now. Chamberlain's books are a fusion of drama, romance and suspense - just perfect for those who enjoy a little more excitement in their beach reads. Molly is a successful lawyer who is desperately trying to build the family she craves with her loving husband, Aiden. In order to create the family she craves, she is forced to confront the many skeletons in her closet. As always, I was captivated by Chamber I've eagerly awaited this latest release by one of my favourite authors for quite some time now. Chamberlain's books are a fusion of drama, romance and suspense - just perfect for those who enjoy a little more excitement in their beach reads. Molly is a successful lawyer who is desperately trying to build the family she craves with her loving husband, Aiden. In order to create the family she craves, she is forced to confront the many skeletons in her closet. As always, I was captivated by Chamberlains writing and couldn't finish the book fast enough, nor did I want it to end. Sometimes with books of a similar genre, you are left a bit deflated by the ending but in Pretending to Dance, I was thoroughly satisfied. The author, ironically, doesn't pretend life - or people - are perfect. We all have flaws. Chamberlain heavily references a particular Judy Blume book, which has made me want to dig out my old copies that I enjoyed growing up. I take it the author is a fan too?! This book sensitively studies many emotive topics, and delves right into the thoughts and feelings of a fourteen year old girl. Growing up in the eighties was a simpler time, so it seems, but some of the issues are still relevant to the youth of today. A highly recommended novel for newer fans of Chamberlain wishing to test the waters of the genre, so to speak. I'm already excited about her next release.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nora|KnyguDama

    Paskutinė skaityta Diane Chamberlain knyga "Paskutinis pabėgimas" nesužavėjo visai. Buvo neįtikima, perspausta, nelogiška. Tačiau viskas atleistina - ši knyga yra vienas pirmųjų autorės darbų. Kitaip sakant, įsibėgėjimas, įsivažiavimas, savo stiliaus ir auditorijos paieškos. Ir jai puikiai pasisekė! Su laiku skaitytojai ją tikrai pamilo, o rašomos knygos viena po kitos tampa bestseleriais. Po blankesnio paskutinio įspūdžio pasąmonėje ir iš "Apsimesk, kad šoki" nieko per daug nesitikėjau. Tačiau Paskutinė skaityta Diane Chamberlain knyga "Paskutinis pabėgimas" nesužavėjo visai. Buvo neįtikima, perspausta, nelogiška. Tačiau viskas atleistina - ši knyga yra vienas pirmųjų autorės darbų. Kitaip sakant, įsibėgėjimas, įsivažiavimas, savo stiliaus ir auditorijos paieškos. Ir jai puikiai pasisekė! Su laiku skaitytojai ją tikrai pamilo, o rašomos knygos viena po kitos tampa bestseleriais. Po blankesnio paskutinio įspūdžio pasąmonėje ir iš "Apsimesk, kad šoki" nieko per daug nesitikėjau. Tačiau vos įpusėjus skaityti supratau, kad man tai geriausia Chamberlain knyga, o ją pabaigusi šluosčiausi ašaras. Molė ir jos vyras negali turėti vaikų. Jie nusprendžia įsivaikinta, o tą padaryti nėra taip lengva - to laukiančiųjų eilė nemaža. Negana to, įvaikinimo agentūra nori žinoti viską apie būsimus tėvelius, tad Molė yra priversta perkratyti visą savo šeimos praeitį. To daryti ji visai nenori. Jos šeima kilusi iš atokios gyvenvietės Morison Ridžo, kur visos žemės jos giminei ir priklausė. Taip pat jiems priklausė ir krūva paslapčių bei nutylėjimų į kurių prisiminimą pamažu leidžiasi visus ryšius su šeima nutraukusi Molė. Kuomet Molei buvo 14 metų ji su savo mama Nora bei tėveliu Grejemu gyveno dideliame name Morison Ridže. Jos tėtis buvo pasaulyje populiarus knygų autorius, psichiatras. Taip pat jis sirgo išsėtine skleroze. Galėjo tik vos pajudinti galvą, akis, kalbėti. Molė begalo mylėjo savo tėvelį - jie buvo kaip geriausi draugai, neišskiriami. Su mama jos tokie ryšiai nesiejo. Galbūt dėl to jog Nora nėra jos tikra mama, ji Molę įsivaikino. Jos tikroji mama Amalija gyvena pašonėje ir moko mergaitę šokti. Kad ir kokia keista jos šeima - Molė joje jau apsiprato. Miestelin atsikrausčius naujokei Steisei, Molė labai su ja susidraugauja ir jos vaikiškas pasaulis pamažu ima bliūkšti. Atsiveria vaikinų, bučinių, vakarėlių ir net sekso temos, kurios daro įtaką Molės charakteriui, bendravimui su tėvais. Jos tėčiui kasdien blogėja, o Molė vis dažniau nori išbėgti iš namų ar net nepaklusti nustatytoms namų taisyklėms. Ši knyga paliečia tiek daug svarbių temų, kad net nežinau kurią čia parinkti kaip pagrindinę. Išsėtinė sklerozė - siaubinga liga aktyviam jaunam žmogui, kuris dabar gali gyventi tik su kitų žmonių pagalba. Žmona taip mylinti savo vyrą, kad net įsidukrina jo nuklydimo vaisių, be proto jį pamilsta ir vardan jo pakenčia buvusią meilužę šalia. Kiek tikros laimės Nora patiria? Amalija atsisakiusi tikros dukters taip pat kenčia. Įsivaikinimo baimės ir džiaugsmai. O Molė paprasta paauglė, norinti elgtis kaip visi paaugliai, tačiau negalinti dėl ypatingų ją supančių aplinkybių. Kiek teisybės čia vaiko akimis? Vaje... Tobula knyga diskusijų klubui - pakalbėti tikrai yra apie ką. O kur dar pabaiga, kuri net akmenį pravirkdytų... Perskaičius ilgai nesilioviau galvojusi apie knygą ir veikėjų likimus. Kiekvienoje situacijoje vilkau save į jų kailius ir svarsčiau kaip elgčiausi pati, ar mano sprendimai būtų tokie patys. Na, mano akimis, tai stipriausias autorės kūrinys iš mano skaitytų. Tikrai stiprus, gilus, nagrinėjantis sudėtingas temas romanas patiksiantis tiek Chamberlain, tiek Picoult ar panašių šeimyninių dramų mėgėjams.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Quick review for a rather progressive read. I took my time with reading "Pretending to Dance" - wrapped up with its questions and building tension that told of a family that used to be close-knit but ended up falling apart. This is ultimately Molly's coming of age story with grief over events that happened when she was a teenager. Told between the past and present, it sets itself up as a parallel story between Molly's family with events that happened during a horrible summer and the present wher Quick review for a rather progressive read. I took my time with reading "Pretending to Dance" - wrapped up with its questions and building tension that told of a family that used to be close-knit but ended up falling apart. This is ultimately Molly's coming of age story with grief over events that happened when she was a teenager. Told between the past and present, it sets itself up as a parallel story between Molly's family with events that happened during a horrible summer and the present where Molly and her husband are about to adopt a child of their own. I feel like this book built itself up with quite a bit of steam. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the story of Molly's coming to terms and the parallel stories. I appreciated taking in talking points to some very heavy issues, such as assisted suicide, long term illness, grief over a loved one, and the deterioration of a family and coming to terms. But I feel the build up didn't match the story in places - it was the uneven handling that threw me out of the story more than a few times. It's definitely a tale that can spark pertinent discussions and with heavy tones, full of emotion and with the intimacy I'm used to reading about in Chamberlain's works. However, I think the progression of it felt a bit uneven for much of the narrative, maybe building a little too long and with the anticipation only to end up not matching the momentum and swell of that build. Molly's a realistic character, even through her anger and bitterness towards her family for the events in this novel. I understood it, I even understood how and why she held onto it as long as she did. Many moments I felt Molly's viewpoints were through tunnel vision, but I understood their root, especially when the truth revealed itself. I just wished that the story had been more evenly distributed. "Necessary Lies", "The Silent Sister," among other novels were able to take the intimate stories of the people in each of those novels and give them a little more balance for beginning, middle and end. This had too long of a beginning and middle before it reached the swell of the ending handed to the reader. I enjoyed the audiobook for what it offered, but the story itself - while giving good talking points and showcasing some beautiful lines of emotion - didn't quite make the connection I was hoping for. Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sheree

    4.5 stars review up soon It's no secret I'm a Diane Chamberlain fan. I've read eight or nine books now and enjoyed them all. I haven't loved them all but Pretending to Dance is right up there with another favourite ... The Midwife's Confession. Chamberlain's writing is smart and poignant and topical and I found Pretending to Dance particularly relevant. Molly has kept her past a secret from her husband Aidan, a past that has laid the ground work for Molly's fears and anxieties as the couple begin 4.5 stars review up soon It's no secret I'm a Diane Chamberlain fan. I've read eight or nine books now and enjoyed them all. I haven't loved them all but Pretending to Dance is right up there with another favourite ... The Midwife's Confession. Chamberlain's writing is smart and poignant and topical and I found Pretending to Dance particularly relevant. Molly has kept her past a secret from her husband Aidan, a past that has laid the ground work for Molly's fears and anxieties as the couple begin the process of adopting a baby. Chamberlain deftly peels back the layers as the story flashes back and forth from adult Molly to 14 year old Molly. I figured out the 'family meetings' early on but far from lessening my enjoyment, I actually had trouble putting this one down. Molly had such a heart-melting bond with her therapist father. I adored their interactions, the music shared (nostalgia +) and their closeness. But with Molly being so responsible at 14, I was a bit disappointed her parents weren't a little more open, it didn't quite fit. But, that would have completely changed the dynamics of the story. Anyway, enough with the cryptic ... just read it, I'd love to know what you think! Diane Chamberlain's insight as a former social worker and psychotherapist is evident in her writing, adding emotion and depth to complex family dynamics. I love that. You may need tissues. And heads up ... the prequel The Dance Begins gives a little background and packs an emotional punch for a short story. Well worth the read, I loved it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    A compelling book, with compelling themes by author Diane Chamberlain who seems to have quietly stolen this bibliophile's best corner of her heart while she wasn't noticing. "Pretending to Dance" is not a simple romance or piece of so-called "women's fiction". It has a contemporary story to tell, addressing serious issues which face many of our population today. First, Chamberlain is a crackerjack storyteller and though her fiction may not be classified as literary, it certainly is lovely to rea A compelling book, with compelling themes by author Diane Chamberlain who seems to have quietly stolen this bibliophile's best corner of her heart while she wasn't noticing. "Pretending to Dance" is not a simple romance or piece of so-called "women's fiction". It has a contemporary story to tell, addressing serious issues which face many of our population today. First, Chamberlain is a crackerjack storyteller and though her fiction may not be classified as literary, it certainly is lovely to read. I wanted to know the outcomes of each characters' fate and felt quite attached to them, which hadn't been the case in many novels for quite a while. We meet Molly at thirty nine, a successful lawyer married to another in San Diego seeking to adopt a baby, after personal tragedy causes them to lose a baby midterm and Molly's chances of conceiving again. Time flashes back to Molly at fourteen, in North Carolina, with her complex and beloved extended family and the gradual unveiling of her unusual circumstances in being parented. Those, we begin to see, cause her significant distress with the idea of the impending adoption. Molly's father is a therapist, well known for his methodology of "pretend therapy", where imagining oneself able will transform a person into conquering fears. He also has a severe form of Multiple Sclerosis which has progressed from his twenties where to, now at age forty-six, his limbs do not support him, he is incontinent, he must be fed by others and is in a wheelchair. Molly adores him and does not see the pain and loss he hides from her, but his extended family do. Straddling childhood and adolescence, Molly fights to gain teenage rights she sees as her due and typically is stormy with her parents, wise and kind as they might be. When her father suddenly dies, Molly is left anguished and accusing her mother of having something to do with it. With the prospect of a new baby in her life, thirty nine year old Molly attempts to meet the conflicts which her fourteen year old self never could. I realized at the end of this novel that I have been impressed by everything I have read by Diane Chamberlain. She speaks to the human condition, its frailties and its resilience and does so very well. I gratefully award this story five stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    As always, thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the free e-version of this ARC. In “Pretending to Dance”, Molly and her husband Aidan, are faced with the challenges that come with adopting a child. However, secrets from Molly’s past soon reveal themselves (did her mother really kill her father? Should she tell her husband that her mother is not dead, after all? And then there’s the issue of Molly’s own birth mother and her mysterious appearance…..) and Molly must decide if her unborn child is worth t As always, thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the free e-version of this ARC. In “Pretending to Dance”, Molly and her husband Aidan, are faced with the challenges that come with adopting a child. However, secrets from Molly’s past soon reveal themselves (did her mother really kill her father? Should she tell her husband that her mother is not dead, after all? And then there’s the issue of Molly’s own birth mother and her mysterious appearance…..) and Molly must decide if her unborn child is worth the pain that comes with bringing these secrets to light. Diane Chamberlain is an experienced writer, with many novels under her belt. Surprisingly, I have not read any of them so I write this review without any previous “Chamberlain experience”. I enjoyed Chamberlain’s writing style, as it was unpretentious, imaginative and engaging and her characters quickly become beloved. There is both humor in this book (the experiences of Molly’s early teenage-hood and the prominence of “The New Kids on the Block”) as well as sadness (the loss of Molly’s dad to MS) but Chamberlain keeps the novel light and upbeat. While the storyline could be complicated (taking place across different time periods and involving a large eclectic collection of family members), Chamberlain has written a plot that is quite easy to follow and helps the reader engage with the story. The relationships between the characters are slightly unrealistic, due to the overwhelming positivity, outpourings of communication and happy-go-lucky attitudes that almost run rampant with each and every character, but this book is most definitely a “happy ending” book and will leave readers with a happy, light-hearted feeling at its end. This book will be relatable for just about anyone and is designed for those who are looking for a positive place to escape to. I was also left with an interest in “pretend therapy”, as studied by Molly’s therapist father, but that of course, is my psychology degree talking.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Giedre

    THANK YOU NET GALLEY AND ST. MARTIN'S PRESS FOR ARC. I love Diane Chamberlain so I was very excited to get ARC for Pretending to Dance. And let me tell you folks- this book is amazing! Just pure Diane Chamberlain down to girls with red hair and stained glass lol. Story line is very heart warming and left me in tears in quite a few places (especially towards the end). However, this book is not one of Diane's Mystery novels like 'Necessary Lies' or 'The First Lie' and blurb does make it sound like THANK YOU NET GALLEY AND ST. MARTIN'S PRESS FOR ARC. I love Diane Chamberlain so I was very excited to get ARC for Pretending to Dance. And let me tell you folks- this book is amazing! Just pure Diane Chamberlain down to girls with red hair and stained glass lol. Story line is very heart warming and left me in tears in quite a few places (especially towards the end). However, this book is not one of Diane's Mystery novels like 'Necessary Lies' or 'The First Lie' and blurb does make it sound like it will be a bit of a mystery but the story is quite clear from the get go. This is the only minus I see and people expecting to get a mystery may get disappointed and rate this book quite low. This book is quite clearly a chick lit but a chick lit at its best. I totally loved it and I will be recommending it to people that are into these sort of books. Thanks Diane and please I NEED MORE :)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I have read several books but this author. What I like about reading books from this author is that I can usually find a connection with the characters. Which in this case, I did but I also was turned off by Moly. What I mean by this is that the teenage rebellion phase grew old quickly. I had no sympathy for Molly with her dysfunction family and the way she acted out as she found out the truth about her family. In fact, I kind of found Molly to be a spoiled brat. So thus the story felt longer th I have read several books but this author. What I like about reading books from this author is that I can usually find a connection with the characters. Which in this case, I did but I also was turned off by Moly. What I mean by this is that the teenage rebellion phase grew old quickly. I had no sympathy for Molly with her dysfunction family and the way she acted out as she found out the truth about her family. In fact, I kind of found Molly to be a spoiled brat. So thus the story felt longer then it needed to be. Yet, I still kept reading as I do like reading books by this author and the story did weave into a good family drama that does have a happy ending. It just goes to show that sometimes cleaning the closet of those skeletons can be a good thing. I do look forward to reading the next book by this author.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    4.5 stars! WARNING! You will need tissues for the ending of this book. I LOVED this book!! I enjoyed the historic part better than the present day part. I got a little tired of the whining about whether or not they would get the baby, but I can understand the frustration. Wow, her adopted mother killed her father and her birth mother lived right down the street. That's some serious dysfunction there. But hey, it is North Carolina. I got relatives there and part of my family tree is one straight b 4.5 stars! WARNING! You will need tissues for the ending of this book. I LOVED this book!! I enjoyed the historic part better than the present day part. I got a little tired of the whining about whether or not they would get the baby, but I can understand the frustration. Wow, her adopted mother killed her father and her birth mother lived right down the street. That's some serious dysfunction there. But hey, it is North Carolina. I got relatives there and part of my family tree is one straight branch, so I know all about that. HA! But that's all I can say about that because I can't give you any spoilers, your just going to have to buy the book to find out. But it will seriously make you say "WHAT?" when the true story comes out. Well, okay I did. The story deals with a lot of things and dancing is just a small, very small part of it. I found this to be very entertaining, intriguing, and I really got into the story. I was definitely wanting to slap Molly several times especially when Stacy told her Chris was with another girl the weekend she was on the book tour and then she still met him. But, girls know everything at the ripe old age of fourteen. Right! Anyway, thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. I highly recommend this book. Come on, it's Diane Chamberlain for goodness sakes. How could you go wrong?

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