At the age of forty-eight, happily remarried and retired from her legal assistant gerbil wheel, Kat decides to break out of her shell and try her hand at belly dancing. What begins as a hobby leads her to filling a coveted spot in Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe. With less than eight weeks to prepare, Kat’s thrown into a world of performing she is terrified to face, all leading to a week of giving lessons and performing in Jamaica. Travelling with eight glittery strangers, she forges deep bonds under outrageous circumstances at what they’d soon all discover was a clothing-optional resort. Struggling with paralyzing stage fright and searching for the deeper root of her fears, Kat feverishly seeks a way to release Ameera, her inner dance queen. By the end of the week, the audience is mesmerized by the powerful presence and synchronicity of women joined at the hip by scarves and some glitter. Kat soon knows, with the help of eight sisters in dance, that she is finally part of a tribe, discovering an oasis to refresh her thirst to be part of a circle of women.
Received from Netgalley.com in exchange for a review
This is a semi autobiographical story (the main character being called Kat Varn) about a middle aged woman on her second marriage, retired, and looking for something new to do. She signs up for a belly dancing class, which makes her confront her crippling self doubt. This started in childhood, when her mother and ballet teacher were overheard agreeing not to let her keep coming to class, followed by years with a controlling first husband who constantly put her down to control her.
She forces herself to keep going to class, even though she believes the other women seem to be so more talented than her. Details of the classes are kept to a minimum, and the secondary characters – from the new husband, to the daughters and teachers – are one dimensional and are barely fleshed out. She auditions for and is accepted by a dance troupe, whose first trip away is to Jamaica, to a resort called Hedonism II, which is a swingers and nudist resort where it seems that anything goes. It seems that Kat is not quite a “prude” (she doesnt strip off, but then she doesnt run away screaming either) and is more concerned with the fact there are no events planned for the week that the troupe are in Jamaica. The Ladies in the troupe become less one dimensional once they arrive in Jamaica, where there are daily bonding sessions, usually over alcohol, where everyone gets to share why they have found themselves in a belly dancing troupe in Jamaica. The story culminates in an evening event where the ladies get to show off their skills.
The book did drag for me quite a lot, and it took effort to pull me back in in order to finish it.
In Summary: I can see where some people may take inspiration from the story about confronting low self esteem and stage fright but it took some effort on my part to finish.