“Dancing Backwards” by Salley Vickers (2010) – 264 pages
So far I’ve read three novels by Salley Vickers : “Miss Garnet’s Angel”, “”The Other Side of You”, and now “Dancing Backwards”. All three have been a pleasure, and I encourage all of you to read her novels. Here are seven reasons why you really must read Salley Vickers.
1. She can take a simple plot and make it sparkle. “Dancing Backwards” is about a woman in her forties taking a luxury cruise ship from England to the United States by herself. The novel relates her experiences on board the ship during the cruise, a simple idea from which Vickers obtains a lot of mileage.
2. She is clever in unexpected places.
His special favorite was ‘Miss Marple’. mainly because he had become expert at second-guessing the murderer. They had a weekly prize of a bottle of wine for whoever could spot the villain first. Edwin usually won.
“The trick is to spot the person most unlikely to have committed the crime.”
“In that case,” Vi pointed out, “surely Miss Marple should commit at least one murder.”
3. Her novels are not weighty tomes about old Kings and Queens of England.
4. Her novels are definitely literary, yet they are as light as a soufflé. You can earn literary brownie points, yet still have fun.
“Vi, what happened? You really loathed Bruno, or said you did.”
“I don’t know Ed. I can’t explain.”
“Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett”
“I wouldn’t say that fitted the situation.”
5. Salley Vickers has got rhythm. Dancing Backwards. She knows how to interweave her various stories gracefully.
6. Somehow England never seems to have a clue about its great woman novelists. Salley Vickers reminds me of the novelist Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor won no major literary prizes, but she turned our one stunning novel after another. Each novel is distinctly literary yet is also fun to read. I can honestly say I’ve read all Taylor’s novels and books of short stories. Which other writer has had two of her novels turned into movies during the last five years? So far I’ve found this same uniformity of quality in Salley Vickers’ novels.
7. She can be profound in her novels, but the profundity comes up in ordinary casual conversation without seeming forced.
“How does one ‘know’ things? Everyone knows everything, really. We just hide it from ourselves.”