‘Written with panache and flair, this charming story captures the loss of identity that can come with marriage and children.’
— Australian Women’s Weekly
‘A beautifully written novel about a woman finding herself again.’
— New Idea, Must Reads
‘You’ll be guessing to the end, and come to care about Madeleine in the process.’
— MX Newspaper (Pick of the Week)
‘Dancing Backwards in High Heels is an insightful exploration of one woman’s journey of being a wife, mother and resident in a new country [while] struggling with her identity.’
— The Weekly Times
‘In her novel about what happens when the body becomes young again, Christine Darcas brilliantly evokes the thrills of Latin dancing. By page 100 your feet will be tapping.’
— Australian Country Style
‘An insightful exploration of one woman’s complicated life.’
“To dance is to be out of yourself, larger, more powerful, more beautiful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.”
―Agnes de Mille
Men’s cologne. It wafts down the studio steps and settles there in a cloying fog ready to engulf anyone brave enough to enter. Soft focus photographs of dancers line the stairwell. I stare at the first one, a woman wearing a sea-green, two-piece number laden with diamantes, her dark hair slicked back. Her face is man-eating leer under Barbarella eyelashes. This really isn’t the female model I want to emulate and, for an instant, I’m tempted to run. But the prospect of grocery shopping, or researching the least expensive repair place for my car ― the next activities on my ‘to do’ list ― stop me. Harry Connick Jr’s voice croons upstairs and a gentle thrill ripples through my gut that no grocery store or panel shop could match. Forget Barbarella; the instructor I spoke with on the phone insisted I could dance for the sake of dancing. No expectations. No pressure. Nothing outside my comfort zone.
Still, as the music, chatter and laughter intensify with every step, I feel myself disintegrating into an eighteen-year-old entering a college fraternity party for the first time. Except back then I was flanked by girlfriends. But there’s no one and nothing here to cover my awkwardness. No alcove to hide in, no counter or large potted plant full of plastic cups leaking cheap beer to linger behind. I’m here and there’s no way I can hide it. I hover by a poster of a young man in a black bolero jacket, his arm arched in flamenco pose with Strictly Ballroom scrawled across the top. Then I swear I hear my name, the splinter of ‘Mad ―’, but no one seems to have noticed I’m there.
A tap on my shoulder. I swing around …
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