Blues Dancing

Blues Dancing

Book - 1999
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From the beloved author of Tumbling and Tempest Rising comes a new novel, Blues Dancing--a richly spun tale of love and passion, betrayal, redemption, and faith, set in contemporary Philadelphia.

In the early seventies, Verdi, a pampered, cloistered daughter of a southern preacher, heads to Philadelphia to enroll at the university. There she meets Johnson, a city boy. Their differences draw them together--he loves her gentility, she is seduced by his charisma. Their relationship is pure sweetness until Johnson teaches her the one thing that will change her life irrevocably--how to love heroin.

Enter Rowe, the conservative black professor who rescues Verdi from her overwhelming addiction and then falls desperately in love with her, leaving his sophisticated wife for this confused southern girl. Rowe and Verdi live a comfortable existence for twenty years, even though he attempts to strain Verdi's relationship with her first cousin and dearest friend, Kitt. As the novel opens, Kitt tells Verdi that Johnson is back in town and Verdi feels her safe and protected world teeter off balance. Once they lay their eyes on each other, they realize that the years have not dulled their passion as they skid uncontrollably toward the desires of their youth. Blues Dancing makes for rich interplay as the author allows time to inform her characters' lives in provocative ways.In the early seventies, Verdi, a pampered, cloistered daughter of a southern preacher, heads to Philadelphia to enroll at the university. There she meets Johnson, a city boy. Their differences draw them together--he loves her gentility, she is seduced by his charisma. Their relationship is pure sweetness until Johnson teaches her the one thing that will change her life irrevocably--how to love heroin.

Enter Rowe, the conservative black professor who rescues Verdi from her overwhelming addiction and then falls desperately in love with her, leaving his sophisticated wife for this confused southern girl. Rowe and Verdi live a comfortable existence for twenty years, even though he attempts to strain Verdi's relationship with her first cousin and dearest friend, Kitt. As the novel opens, Kitt tells Verdi that Johnson is back in town and Verdi feels her safe and protected world teeter off balance. Once they lay their eyes on each other, they realize that the years have not dulled their passion as they skid uncontrollably toward the desires of their youth. Blues Dancing makes for rich interplay as the author allows time to inform her characters' lives in provocative ways.In the early seventies, Verdi, a pampered, cloistered daughter of a southern preacher, heads to Philadelphia to enroll at the university. There she meets Johnson, a city boy. Their differences draw them together--he loves her gentility, she is seduced by his charisma. Their relationship is pure sweetness until Johnson teaches her the one thing that will change her life irrevocably--how to love heroin.

Enter Rowe, the conservative black professor who rescues Verdi from her overwhelming addiction and then falls desperately in love with her, leaving his sophisticated wife for this confused southern girl. Rowe and Verdi live a comfortable existence for twenty years, even though he attempts to strain Verdi's relationship with her first cousin and dearest friend, Kitt. As the novel opens, Kitt tells Verdi that Johnson is back in town and Verdi feels her safe and protected world teeter off balance. Once they lay their eyes on each other, they realize that the years have not dulled their passion as they skid uncontrollably toward the desires of their youth. Blues Dancing makes for rich interplay as the author allows time to inform her characters' lives in provocative ways.

Publisher: New York : Wm. Morrow, c1999
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780688149956
0688149952
Branch Call Number: FIC MCK
Characteristics: 307 p. ; 25 cm

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joann1949 May 05, 2016

Delving again into the Philadelphia she claimed in her first two novels (Tumbling; Tempest Rising), McKinney-Whetstone gives a rhapsodic performance in this story of self-discovery that moves seamlessly between the early 1970s and early '90s. At its heart is Verdi, a woman fast approaching 40, who lives with Rowe, the older professor who saved her from a drug habit when she was an undergrad. Now the recently appointed principal at a school for special-needs children, Verdi is enjoying a relatively stable life when she learns that her first loveÄcharismatic and street-smart Johnson, the college flame who introduced Verdi to political activism and heroinÄis back in town. Running into Johnson unexpectedly at a cousin's birthday party, Verdi finds her feelings for him far from dead as they face each other and seem to sense "their blues dancing." But Verdi's attraction to Johnson, who's now an established fund-raiser, raises questions about her long-kicked habit and about her relationship with Rowe. Gracefully dovetailing with the love triangle are the equally complex and eloquent stories of Verdi's mother, aunt and, especially, her close-as-a-sister cousin Kitt. Pitch-perfect dialogue and a keen eye capture the spirit and cadences of the early '70s, when students were "booking" between Black Students League events and listening to the Stylistics on the record player. The author pegs the caring but comfy zeitgeist of the '90s as well. Verdi's evolution, from sheltered but curious daughter of a Southern preacher to drug-addicted student to stifled partner of an overprotective father figure, is all too credible. Flashbacks to the early days of the erstwhile lovers' relationship shimmer with the intoxication of first love, while their later encounters powerfully reveal their vulnerability to old desires. The novel's swift resolution may seem improbable, but even the tidiest wrap-up can't help but satisfy readers who have become passionately involved in the fates of these winning characters

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