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The Unexpected Waltz by Kim Wright

The Unexpected Waltz

by Kim Wright

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565299,507 (3.68)1

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I really enjoyed this book. I liked 52-year-old Kelly who is trying to survive after her husband has died a year ago. She has no direction, she has a big house and really has no purpose as she has no job. She stumbles into a dance studio owned and operated by three Russians and she decides to take a dance lesson. That lesson turns into another one and another one and next thing she knows she is sucked into the place. She is also a hospice volunteer and meets Carolina who is a firecracker even though she shouldn't live long.

As a 50-year-old who has had breast cancer and a boss who recently died in hospice, I really related to this story, except I'm not rich and my husband is alive. I felt I could understand more of what was going on with Kelly. My husband is alive but he works WAY long hours and my daughter is an adult and has her own life so I'm on my own a lot. So how do you fill your time?

I really liked the different characters in the book and how even though they are all from different backgrounds and personalities, they really became friends and a family.

Very wonderfully written and really enjoyable. I would really recommend this book.

I won this book on Goodreads. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 11, 2016 |
This was a new author for me. The story started off slow for me, but the pace did pick-up. I sometimes struggled with how the author described the character, Nik. There were times while I was reading that I felt very sorry for the character, Kelly. I can not decide why I struggled to believe this story, but I found it to be really unbelievable. I did read the complete book, but I did not connect well with any of the characters. Not sure if I will give this author another try or not. ( )
  BrendaKlaassen | Oct 14, 2015 |
I have always been fascinated by the idea of ballroom dancing, despite not exactly being the embodiment of grace and poise myself. There's something elegant and classic about spinning seemingly effortlessly about the floor, shoes sliding and dress flaring. When my husband and I took a few lessons leading up to our wedding, we showed less than zero aptitude though and so I will be content to watch from the side as others swoop and twirl gracefully. The heroine in Kim Wright's novel, The Unexpected Waltz, doesn't just watch though, she immerses herself in the welcoming community and culture of ballroom dancing.

Kelly was widowed about a year ago and since the death of her husband, she's really been floundering. Over the past year she's come to realize that the person she was in her marriage is perhaps not an entirely honest reflection of who she really is. As the younger, second wife of a wealthy older husband, she has played her part as a society wife quite well, serving on committees, lunching with other wives, decorating her home and garden, participating in fund raisers, and so on. But in doing so, she's lost touch with the woman she once was, trading her once passionate life for stability and contentment. She is the woman who creates elaborate, if clichéd, tablescapes to grace every party and event she hosts, a clear metaphor for her own life--unoriginal but expected just the same. When she inadvertently walks out of a local grocery store with an apple she hasn't paid for in her hand, she turns around to make it right but accidentally walks into the ballroom dance studio next door instead of the grocery store. And just like that, her life changes.

Agreeing to lessons, Kelly is drawn to the discipline of ballroom dance, to the kindness and acceptance of the community she finds in the studio, to the trials and tribulations of her fellow dancers, and to the person that dance allows her to bloom into being. Her newfound love for dancing coupled with her volunteer work for Hospice and her interactions with Carolina, the young mother dying of breast cancer she visits there, helps Kelly slowly learn to make the life she wants, embrace moving on, and gives her a chance to find out who she really is both by visiting the unresolved past and looking to the future.

Kelly is a quiet character, not one given to flash, but her journey to discover the woman she's suppressed for so long is an appealing one. She takes honest stock of herself, facing her mistakes and failures as she does her soul searching. Only by accepting everything about herself, including the truth about her marriage, her age, and her previous stagnation will she be able to find the confidence in herself to go against her lawyer's words to her after her husband's death: "Nothing has to change." For Kelly, thanks to her reevaluation of life in middle age, things do in fact have to change. There are a lot of secondary characters in the book, many of them fellow ballroom dancers, but they mostly remain quick sketches with only brief touches on their lives. The description of the dance steps that Kelly tries to master can bog down some, especially for readers with no dance experience behind them. It's hard to capture something so physical and visual for the uninitiated. The pacing is generally slow, deliberate, and measured like the classic dances until the end when it becomes almost frenzied in its rush to wrap up. This is a sweet tale of unexpected interests, embracing change, and learning that it's never to late to move forward in life. ( )
  whitreidtan | May 17, 2015 |
This was a good book. It was about a woman Kelly who never really experienced the joys of life. She is in her early fifties and her husband passed away a year ago. It was a marriage of convenience. She is also a very wealthy woman. She inadvertently steals an apple from the grocery store and ends up in a dancing studio. Sh signs herself up for ball room dancing. The story takes off from there. The characters are likable, most of them anyway. The story can be slow at times, but I really liked it. It was different from what I've been reading. It was bittersweet. ( )
  bwhitner | Mar 19, 2015 |
This book about a middle-aged woman having to move-on after a loss spoke to me. Her evaluation of her prior relationships, friends and herself as she struggles with being afraid of change and desperately wanting to move beyond the box in which she has lived her life. When Kelly stumbles into a dance studio and signs up for a complimentary first lesson, she has no idea how significantly it will change her life. Her endeavors in the dance classes give her the confidence to make other changes in her life, and the wealth she has inherited from her late husband allow her to impact others' lives as well.

Kelly learns that her romanticizing and perceptions of friends' and acquaintances' lives are not usually valid. With the exception of her extreme wealth, there is nothing perfect in Kelly's life. Through her musings, the reader sees all the little things that she settled for, accepted, put up with and rebelled against that really make up her life--not just the picture-perfect tablescapes she creates for the various charitable functions she helps put on or the nice home she has provided her wealthy, older (now late) husband.

The characters are fully developed, and the story is well paced like the balance the dancers strive for in their ballroom competitions. The descriptions of the various dances are poetic as is the way the author uses the various to describe different feelings/sentiments. A delight to read. ( )
  xkoqueen | Apr 20, 2014 |
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To my teacher and friend, Max Maleshko
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I was born the year Disneyland opened, the year Elvis sang "Heartbreak Hotel" and McDonald's raised their golden arches, the year James Dean died.
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Book description
When Kelly Wilder Madison's wealthy, much older husband dies, she finds herself with too much time and money-and absolutely no idea what happens next. On a whim, she signs up for ballroom dance classes, and slowly, tango by cha-cha by foxtrot, gains the confidence to rebuild her life. In black lycra and high heels, Kelly explores her artistic potential with her stern but insightful Russian dance teacher: she forms unbreakable bond with a hospice patient clinging eagerly to life, herself, and the long ago lover who broke her heart. (ARC)
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"Kelly Wilder becomes recently widowed from a much older wealthy man with whom she spent her married life doing charity work, building a lovely home, and, as she says, "pretending to be a whole lot more conservative and stupid and nicer than I really am." Now, with too much time and money on her hands, Kelly has absolutely no idea what happens next. So on a whim she signs up for a ballroom dancing class, and slowly, step by high-heeled step, begins to rebuild her life with the help of friends old and new: Nik, a young Russian dance teacher who sees the artistic potential she left behind; Carolina, a woman in hospice, anxious to experience a whole lifetime in a few months; and Elyse, Kelly's girlhood best friend who knows all of her past secrets--including the truth about the man who long ago broke Kelly's heart. In the vein of Jennifer Weiner's novels, Unexpected Waltz is a deeply felt novel about moving on after loss and finding a new walk--or dance--of life through the power of second chances"--… (more)

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