The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a historical fiction novel taking place in 16th Century when a dancing plague affected women. Ms. Hargrave is an award winning writer and poet.
- 256 pages
- Publisher : HarperVia
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0063274779
I’ve enjoyed The Mercies by the author previously, and I saw her new book I wanted to give it a shot. The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave has a lot going for it, however, I felt that the plot never got going and the ending was anticlimactic.
The protagonist, Lisbet, a pregnant woman who suffered many miscarriages, and tragedies, and basically has a difficult life overall was an interesting character. However, I thought her growth and revelations were misdirected at some point.
The dancing plague was very interesting to read about, and I even read a bit more on it. However, much like the Salem Witch Trials, the lessons are not learned. The importance of impartial judges, the dangers of mixing religion with the state, and most importantly being aware of the work fear and ignorance play. The witch trials illustrate what can happen when we allow ourselves to be governed by nightmares and fantasies.
Looking at the news headlines it seemed that we haven’t learned a damn thing.
But back to the book.
The story has a lot going for it, faith and the loss of it, a loss of trust in public leaders, prejudice, fanatics who believe everything is allowable and “good” if it’s for their own cause, familial relationships, and hierarchy, religion as the source of violence, and more.
As much as I enjoyed the book, it seemed more like a creative writing exercise than a finished product. At around the halfway mark, I started to lose interest, history and flowery language aside.
Lisbet and her family are about to lose their farm and her bees to the Catholic church because… well… the church wants it. While her husband goes to try and fight their lot, pregnant Lisbet joins him together with Nethe, the sister who just came back from seven years of penance for something Lisbet is not privy to.
As they go to the big city, a dancing plague affected the city’s women. No one understands it and the church tries to figure out if it’s the work of angels or demons.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free
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