Review: Dancing on Rocks by Rose Senehi

Dancing on RocksDancing on Rocks by Rose Senehi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dancing on Rocks was a surprisingly engaging read. Focusing on the main character of Georgie Hydock, recently returned to her hometown of Chimney Rock Village at the base of the same-named gorge and famous landmark Dancing on Rocks takes you on a slow observation of southern mountain life in a small tourist town. Georgie has come back to town to help take care of her capricious mother after a nasty accident on her motorcycle leaves her wounded and temporarily physically disabled. Having trained as a nurse, Georgie is perfectly suited for the job. However, her return to her hometown raises up old ghosts like those of her lost and drowned younger sister, a father deceased six months, and a romance tragically ended too soon. All of which she expected but none of which she readily wants to engage in. The past is a place full of memories she’d rather not relive, rekindle or address. Yet small town life has a way of dredging up the most ancient of secrets, reminding us of unspoken bonds that only close physical proximity over dozens of generations can generate. Georgie has no choice but to face her past, confess certain truths, and hopefully find blessing and relief in doing so, not only for herself but for everyone involved.

Rose Senehi knows the people and culture she writes about. In the final pages of this book she discusses how the plot came to be, acknowledging several people upon whom she based certain characters. I appreciated this explanation. Sometimes these little tidbits take away from the overall shine of a story but in this case Senehi isn’t boastful, only illuminating the lengths to which she went in order to compose what turned out to be a historically rich, factually detailed and relevant story. Her characters stand up and off the page, reaching out to engage you, perhaps because they are modeled on real people. I rooted for Georgie and Ron, felt (nominally) sad about Mary, and enjoyed the familial relationships. The mystery surrounding the drowning of Georgie’s youngest sister Shelby plays an active subplot that works well as supporting foundation for the resolutions of many relationships Georgie’s teenage departure from the village cast asunder. This was a wonderful tale of reconciliation and healing set among familiar scenery that captured the imagination being as much a character as the human cast. Senehi’s writing evokes the Blue Ridge Mountains with adroit skill, reminding me of childhood vacations to the area (including a trip to Chimney Rock many, many years ago).

Notwithstanding a few minor editing misses (for instance, Georgie is at one point on the phone with her sister, slamming her fist down on the table next to the phone and then somehow miraculously ends up in the same room with this same sister having the conversation but no longer on the phone), I give Dancing On Rocks high marks. While not a stunner this book was an enjoyable read.

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