They Danced on by Carre Armstrong Gardner
Published by Tyndale House Publishers on July 1st 2016
Genres: Christian, Contemporary Women, Family Life, Fiction, General
Nothing is more important to Jane Darling than her family. She’s dedicated her life to raising her children, and they all appear to be doing well. She can finally relax and enjoy life. But when her husband becomes seriously ill, Jane finds herself taking on the most difficult role of her life.Laura Darling moved away to escape the expectations of her family. Ever since she went through rehab, they watch her like a hawk. Now she has a good job, new friends, and no one to criticize her or comment on everything she’s doing. But when everything begins to unravel, Laura’s heart turns toward home.Follow the Darling family through triumph and tragedy as they struggle with an uncertain future.
I had never heard of author, Carre Armstrong Gardner, but the storyline of this book, They Danced On, caught my attention and I was really looking forward to reading it. They Danced On is all about the Darling family. No, they aren’t a darling family – their last name is Darling. Apparently this was the third book in a series, but I have to say I never would have known this was a book in a series – definitely a “stand alone”. Now that I know there are two books ahead of this one, I’m curious if it would have mattered if I knew more about the family before reading this book.
Each of the characters in They Danced On are realistic and flawed, which is just the way I like it. I could totally identify with them and each of their respective ways. As a woman in recovery, I particularly liked the realistic way Laura’s addiction was shared and I could relate to her struggles. It showed a good person who regularly volunteered and helped the homeless continue to make bad choices as it pertained to alcohol. There are many times when active alcoholics are perceived as selfish people, when in fact their addictions own them and control their behavior. As they come to terms with their addictive behavior, they are able to make “right” the selfish ways of their past. I think as Laura’s addiction is portrayed in this book, it is very close to being on point with the women in recovery that I have encountered in my life (including myself).
It was very interesting, too, reading how Jane’s faith affected her original perspective on her husband, Leander’s disease (ALS) and whether or not her perspective was realistic in this situation. Even more interesting was how Jane was able to come to terms with the inevitable future of Leander’s ALS. Another interesting topic as it pertained to Jane was her feeling the “empty nest syndrome” and how she dealt with that situation as her last child moved out. As readers, we read how she struggled with that particular issue and how she resolved those feelings.
And then there’s Jane’s very strained relationship with her sister, Ellen. While Jane has a “dirty little secret” from all those years ago, that secret isn’t hidden from Ellen, who played an intricate part of the situation. Jane must come to terms with her part in the situation before she can ever restore her relationship with Ellen. It’s kind of interesting to me how something so horrible could just happen to Jane without her finding any accountability on her own part for so very long. It isn’t until she realizes that she had an active part in the destruction of her relationship with her sister that she can even begin to mend the bridge.
There are many other stories going on at once in this book, with Sephy, with Ivy and Nick and their children, with Amy and her boyfriend, Mitch – I just can’t address each story so you’ll have to read the book to learn about everyone’s outcome.
This book was a quick read. At the end there’s an excerpt from her next book, All Right Here, which appears to be Book #1 in this series. I think now that I’ve read #3, I’d like to learn the backstory of this family by reading Book #1, All Right Here, and Book #2, Better All The Time, so that I have a more complete idea of who the Darlings really are. In the meantime, if you are interested in reading the first chapter of They Danced On to decide whether or not you might want to read it, you can read those pages by clocking READ FIRST CHAPTER HERE.
When provided with a copy of this book, we were also provided with a “Q&A” posed to the author. I selected two of the questions to her along with her answers to share with you:
Q: What led you to want to write a family drama series?
A: Roots are important to me. I think it’s because I’ve lived such a transient life: I’ve moved 14 times, and I live in a socially fluid part of the country: people come, and stay for a few years, and move on. It seems we’re always saying good-bye to friends. So I rely on the solidity of family relationships: they’re something you can count on, even when you don’t live near each other. There’s no fun like the fun you have with family, and no griefs affect you so deeply as those that touch this particular nerve. My very favorite times in life are family Christmases or birthdays, or picnics….any time we get together. Now that I’m grown up, my siblings and their spouses are also my friends. It’s wonderful to have people who know your history; people you don’t have to explain yourself to.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
A: I hope they’ll come away with a deeper understanding of addiction and what it does to a person, and what hope there is. In the months to come, I’ll be writing some articles and guest blog posts about this issue. I would also love to help people move away from a facile and formulaic understanding of what God is like: that he’s an easily-analyzed being who hates unrighteousness and dispenses favor to the faithful. Not only is that understanding an incomplete one, but it’s also unsatisfying. Knowing God on a deeper level means things get complicated, less black-and-white. But they’re infinitely more satisfying.
Carre writes from the big small town of Portland, Maine, where she’s the mom of 3 teenagers and 2 dogs she would rather not own. (Only the dogs, not the teenagers.) From 2007 to 2010, she and her family lived in Russia, studying the language and doing humanitarian work.
Like most writers, Carre grew up with her a book always in her hand. The heroines she admired most were smart, creative, independent thinkers like Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, and Cherry Ames. Nancy proved that being a girl detective might just be the coolest career ever, but Cherry taught her that nursing was more practical. Carre compromised by becoming a nurse and marrying a sleuth.
Nearly every flat surface in Carre’s home has books on it. The stories she loves most are those about the ordinary lives of ordinary people; she thinks of every life as a fascinating drama. Isn’t each one of us the hero of our own story? She’d love for you to drop her a line and tell her yours! You can find Carre on her Official Website, or you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter too!
In compliance with the Federal Trade Commission regulations, please be aware that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this post as part of their Tyndale Blog Network.