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The Belly Dancer by DeAnna Cameron
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The Belly Dancer (edition 2009)

by DeAnna Cameron

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468251,994 (3.58)1
Member:sylviawrigley
Title:The Belly Dancer
Authors:DeAnna Cameron
Info:Berkley Trade (2009), Edition: 1, Paperback, 320 pages
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The Belly Dancer by DeAnna Cameron

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The premise of this book drew my attention to it. I had just signed up for belly dancing classes and was instantly intrigued. My love of historical fiction just added to its allure. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to its anticipation levels for me. I enjoyed parts of it but now as much as I really wanted to.

The belly dancing world fascinated me throughout this book. Knowing that some of this might have actually happened as well made for even more enjoyment. The author portrayed Dora's transformation from restrained Victorian housewife to free-feeling belly dancer with skill and nice pacing. It wasn't wham-bam instant belly dancer; Dora showed real progression with intervals of restraint, slowly working towards public exhibition. I loved visualizing this foreign world of silks, Egyptian food and characters, and beautiful dancing. Dora seemed to blossom in this world of free-er expression and start to find a place for herself.

The romance with Hossam was also wonderfully handled, once the author actually got to it. I could feel the passion they felt for each other just leap off the page. Compared to the constraint that Dora felt with her husband, I really enjoyed the freedom she was able to express with Hossam. It almost felt like a vehicle to illustrate her new place in life, from the rigid Victorian world of high society to the more free-flowing current of dance. And yet, that vehicle didn't detract from the real romance I could feel between these two.

Now that being said, I would have liked it far more if the author had actually gotten to the romance a bit faster. I mean, they didn't get together until 81% through the book?! The book was almost over before we even got them expressing any feeling for each other besides staid politeness.

It's just one example, really, of the horrible pacing in this book. The first half of the book seemed to drrrraaaaggggg.... Dora stayed the same placid housewife trying oh so hard to please everyone. Her character didn't shift at all for this first half. It's almost enough to make a reader scream. The only thing that kept me reading was the belly dancing part of the book, the interesting setting, and the anticipation of a forbidden romance, my fav kind. Then, the romance almost seemed chucked in last minute. It seems like the author remembered that oh yeah, there was supposed to be romance in this. Better add it in before sending it in the publishers. While what was there was very enjoyable and sweet, seeing it paced better would have added to my enjoyment of this title a lot more.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It entertained with the belly dancing and the world it shed light on. Once Dora started to develop into the dancer we all know she could be and started on her romance with Hossam, the book picked up pace quickly. If only that part of the book had been spread throughout it and not all crammed into the last half, this book would have gotten more stars from me. But still an enjoyable read. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 11, 2016 |
No thanks. ( )
  amaraduende | Mar 30, 2013 |
I like historical novels because they transport me to other places and other times. That's exactly what author, DeAnna Cameron, does and she does it very well!

After finishing this thoroughly entertaining novel: all about young, naive Dora, the Victorian Lady Managers she tries to emulate, and the exotic Egyptian belly dancers at the Chicago World's Fair who shock the populace but captivate Dora, I wanted nothing more than to revisit this world.

When I don't want to finish reading a novel I know it's SPECIAL! I've decided I'm definitely a fan of DeAnna Cameron's! ( )
  kbsartori | Mar 9, 2013 |
While reading the first half of this novel, I almost chucked it. The heroine, Dora is so dumb and naive at first, it is frustrating. She acts like a child, is treated like a child, and struggles most fruitlessly to please her new husband and every high society matron she crosses paths with. Not understanding the ways of the bedroom, she shies away from her husband when it comes to her wifely duties, sending him into the arms of a former paramour. Upon witnessing his indiscretion with her own eyes, she decides to gain the knowledge to win him back. WHY?? Why would anyone want him back?

BUT, I am glad I stuck with this. Dora's desire to attract her husband back to her leads her to the Chicago World's Fair (where she is already working as a Lady Manager) to the Egyptian Theater and its belly dancers. It is here that Dora makes friends, learns the ways of love, and begins to dance. Dora, having been shunned by society all her life, finally finds solace with a group of people that have been shunned themselves.

Will Dora use her newfound sexual charms on her husband, Charles? Or will she choose to use them on the myterious Arab man she is secretly attracted to?

Meanwhile, Dora has made an enemy of one of society's richest matrons. There may be some stuff hitting the fan.

Had Dora been just a bit less naive and blind in the first half, this would have hit the five star mark. It certainly redeemed itself with a great ending. ( )
  Soniamarie | Feb 16, 2010 |
Dora Chambers has just arrived to the White City, Chicago in 1893 at the time of the great World’s Fair. Newly wed to an up and coming banker, Charles Chambers, Dora finds life in the big city a bit different than that of her homeland back in New Orleans. With a mysterious past that even she was raised unaware of, Dora is accompanied into her new married life by her childhood nanny and servant Bonmarie, who is now their cook and maid, and holder of Dora’s secret heritage.

Setting them up in a fine townhouse and with hopes of a better life, Charles requests that Dora join the society of Lady Managers, a group of wives taking up the task to keep the events and entertainments at the World’s Fair safe and in proper order. Charles feels her participation and approval from the other ladies will boost him up the business ladder of success. Wishing to please her new husband and gain respect from society, her first assignment is to get the Egyptian Belly Dancers at the Cairo exhibit to make changes in their costumes and method of dancing that is reeking havoc with the gentleman of Chicago. The naked bellies and undulating dances, provocative eyes and alluring exotic women, are causing a ruckus all too improper. The Lady Managers insist on taming the show to a dull roar and to bring it within propriety’s guidelines. Fully taking the task in hand Dora makes a deal with Amina Mahomet, the lead dancer, and swaps services to make the necessary changes that will gain the wanted approval from her peers. Amina needs a doctor for another dancer and agrees to alter the performance if Dora finds her medical help. Thus begins a newfound friendship, albeit in secret, of Dora and Amina, two women raised in worlds as different as day and night.

Charles it seems has a wandering eye and soon begins an affair with another man’s wife, leaving Dora alone and feeling rejected. Determined to win her man and attract his eye towards her alone, Dora visits her Egyptian friend daily to learn how to be more of the woman Charles will want. Dora and Amina invent a hilarious scheme when Dora asks Amina’s assistance in learning the ways of love. Teaching her to walk, talk, bat her eyes and dance seductively, Amina proudly takes Dora on as her student of all things sensual.

As each night Charles arrives late or doesn’t come home at all, Dora becomes more determined to show him she can be all he wants her to be. With every charm and seductive glance, Charles continually turns away from Dora leaving her in tears and frustration, and eventually into another man’s arms. This story revolves around two scandalous and licentious secret liaisons set in a time when this would have been an outrage to society. The Belly Dancer, sweet and innocent Dora Chambers, transforms herself from decadent graceful swan to an alluring seductive siren with the help of her new friends from Egypt. Light and easy, silly and entertaining, I loved this debut book and look forward to what the author is writing next. ( )
  vernefan | Jan 22, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)

This first novel by Trabuco Canyon's Cameron, left, combines the exoticism of belly-dancing, a colorful and historically accurate setting in 1893 Chicago, and a fast-moving plot full of romance, conflict, cultural differences, ambition, and changing social and personal values. Released this month, it’s a great summer read.

[skip]

Her portrayal of the art of belly-dancing and its effect on participants and observers is both sensitive and sensual, opening a window into a world unknown to most readers.
 
4 stars -- Mild;

The 1893 World’s Fair was a marvel, and in her debut, Cameron uses this backdrop to demonstrate one woman’s view of herself. Society is forever altered because of what she learns in the lush, sensual and exotic world of belly dancers. With a strong and vibrant picture of the era and a feminist approach to history, Cameron makes statements about women’s rights and society constraints.

added by DeAnnaCameron | editRT BOOK Reviews (Jul 1, 2009)
 
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This book is dedicated to women who love to belly dance, whether it's on a stage, in a classroom, or alone in a room with the curtains pulled closed.
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Dora Chambers entered the Egyptian Theatre behind the crowd of gritty laborers and pale office clerks, the older gentlemen, and boys barely of an age to shave.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425227782, Paperback)

A scandal that shocks a nation...and a passion that transforms a woman.

At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the modern, the exotic, and the ground-breaking collide. But Dora Chambers has more pressing matters to consider. Hoping to begin a life of wealth and privilege in Chicago, she sets out to earn the approval of the Fair's Board of Lady Managers to appease her ambitious, aloof husband. Unimpressed, they give Dora the distasteful task of enforcing proper conduct at the Egyptian belly dancing exhibition.

But Dora's sensibilities are not so easily flustered. She finds herself captivated by these exotic women, and by their enigmatic manager, Hossam Farouk, who makes his mistrust of her known-although his lingering glances hint at something else.

As Dora's eyes are opened to the world beyond a life of social expectations and quiet servitude, she finds the courage to break free of her self-imposed bondage, and discovers the truth about the desire and passion in her own heart.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Given the task of enforcing proper conduct at the Egyptian belly dancing exhibition, Dora Chambers' eyes are opened to the world beyond a life of social expectations and quiet servitude and finds the courage to break free of her self-imposed bondage.

(summary from another edition)

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