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Here at the End of the World We Learn to…

Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance

by Lloyd Jones

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Draft dodging piano tuner on the run teaches tango in a cave. What more do you need to know?
A beautifully told story about two families, separated by a generation and an ocean, Here At the End of the World We Learn to Dance really captures the spirit of tango. And did I mention it stars a piano tuner? ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
If you like intricate plots, interesting characters, foreign settings, and historical accuracy, this is a book for you. I knew absolutely nothing about Japanese/Chinese relations or Manchuria during the war and I must admit I had to reread chapters in the first part of the book to gather an understanding of the history of the times, but after that I was totally pulled in.

The first chapter is so compelling and demonstrates the effect stories and imagination can have on the human condition. And then as the book unfolds, one begins to see how stories (movies) can have an effect on an entire nation; are they stories for the imagination or propaganda or both.

Although Ri Koran (or Shirley Yamaguchi or whatever her name could be) is the center of the story, the three men that tell her story at three different times in her life are the most interesting. They provide perfect foils to her personality as she evolves from someone who is knowingly manipulated to someone who manipulates those around her. All of this set in three different parts of the world in vastly different circumstances.

I loved this book. I loved the fact that real historical characters play a part (Truman Capote comes to mind), and the authenticity of the historical events as they unfolded in China, Japan, United States, and Lebanon. There are so many characters in this book and so many little unique connections between them, it was a fascinating read. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 17, 2013 |
I enjoyed the first half of this novel more than the second half which to me didn’t have the same sense of purpose about it. Coming from ‘Mister Pip’ and ‘Hand me down world’ I was interested in Jones’ earlier fiction. He certainly seems to be a highly versatile writer although I guess quite a lot of this is close to home with his description of part of the east coast of New Zealand. I’m not sure that Rosa, the main female character, ever became more than a woman in part wanting to recreate the steps of her grandfather’s lover – I couldn’t really see what drove her. Similarly, with Lionel I felt there was some lack of depth of characterization – simply a boy initiated into the adult world by an older woman, a selfish boy (as no doubt most are at that age) who has a pang or two of guilt before things turn out well for him. For me Louise was the most interesting, another selfish character. In fact, as I write this, perhaps this is the unifying link in the novel just as it is in ‘Hand me down world’ – how humans wherever put themselves first although there are the accommodating ones like Lionel’s parents and Chrissie who’s a bit of a deus ex machina.

Still, what’s so good about Jones’ writing is the writing itself, so unforced but telling like the view of the sea and sky when Louise is trapped looking at it day in, day out so it becomes ‘the pinched horizon’. It’s phrases like these that make this a memorable novel. ( )
  evening | Jul 11, 2011 |
Towards the more literary end of the spectrum, but not too erudite. An interesting story and not at all predictable. ( )
  paulmorriss | Nov 29, 2010 |
"If you haven't fallen in love by the end of the dance, you haven't danced the tango."

A woman mirrors her grandfather's affair which was born of the tango and sustained by it. Argentina provides an exotic backdrop. ( )
  fig2 | Mar 5, 2010 |
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The tango is man and woman in search of each other. It is a search for an embrace, a way to be together. - Juan Carlos Copes, Choreographer and Dancer

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For eleven years an elderly man with a silver-knobbed cane visited Louise's grave with flowers.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385342624, Paperback)

In tango, there are no wrong turns. But every dance begins with a backward step.

Taking his cue from the tango, the acclaimed author of Mister Pip has written a thrilling and sensuous novel about how we fall in love.

Ranging from rural New Zealand during the final days of World War I to Buenos Aires at mid-century to the present day, this masterful novel intertwines two love stories across three generations. The deep suspicions of an isolated community in the midst of war force Louise and Schmidt—two near-strangers—to hide in a cave overlooking the ocean. Desperate for solace, Schmidt teaches Louise the tango, and the iconic dance becomes their mutual obsession and the trigger for an affair that will span continents.

Years later, Schmidt’s granddaughter, keeper of the family secrets, owns a restaurant in Wellington where a shy young student named Lionel washes the dishes. One day she snaps her fingers in his direction and says: “I need to dance.”

Brilliantly evoking the seductive power of one of the world’s most famous dances, Lloyd Jones’s novel is a virtuoso performance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:46 -0400)

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Taking his cue from the tango, the Man Booker Prize-short-listed author of "Mister Pip" has written a thrilling and sensuous novel on how people fall in love.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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