Review – Dance The Moon Down by R L Bartram

By | October 15, 2013

In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumours held no significance for Victoria either. It was her father’s decision to enrol her at university that began to change all that. There she befriends the rebellious and outspoken Beryl Whittaker, an emergent suffragette, but it is her love for Gerald Avery, a talented young poet from a neighbouring university that sets the seal on her future. 

After a clandestine romance, they marry in January 1914, but with the outbreak of the First World War, Gerald volunteers but within months has gone missing in France. Convinced that he is still alive, Victoria’s initial attempts to discover what has become of him, implicate her in a murderous assault on Lord Kitchener resulting in her being interrogated as a spy, and later tempted to adultery. 

Now virtually destitute, Victoria is reduced to finding work as a common labourer on a run down farm, where she discovers a world of unimaginable ignorance and poverty. It is only her conviction that Gerald will some day return that sustains her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life becomes a battle of faith against adversity. 

There have been points over the last year where I feared I might have battle fatigue, I was reading so many novels set around the World Wars. This book was a real breath of fresh air: straightforward and endearing in style, it focused instead on the women left behind, and gave a beautiful insight into the morals of the time. Victoria is the most sympathetic of heroines, and I loved her dedication to waiting for Gerald, her friendships with both Beryl the suffragette and the farm girls, and her resilience against all the hardships she endured. In these days of freedom of speech and movement, I was particularly incensed by the way her dedicated friendship to Beryl and her desperate search for information about Gerald almost brought about her downfall. And I particularly loved her time at the farm – doing the accounts, teaching them to read, struggling with her own personal demons, and the physical impact of engaging in such back-breaking work. And at the end of the book I shed real tears. 

This book is beautifully written and meticulously researched, and it gave a really fresh insight into the women who were left behind, and the way in which their lives were changed. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a really good story and seeing things from a slightly different perspective. 

My copy of Dance The Moon Down was provided by the author – thank you Robert – in exchange for an honest review. The book is now available in Kindle and paperback via Authors Online. Interested readers might also like to read the author spotlight at jaffareadstoo and the excellent review by Anne at randomthingsthroughmyletterbox. I’m so pleased that Robert made the decision to engage with the blogger community to spread the word about his lovely book.