Publication Date: November 27, 2011
In Dance the Moon Down by R.L. Bartram, Victoria, an affluent English woman attending a University, meets the love of her life, Gerald Avery. Gerald is a poet and doesn’t meet the expectations of Victoria’s mother so the pair marries secretly in early 1914. When England enters World War I, Gerald volunteers for service. When he goes missing, Victoria will stop at nothing to find her husband no matter the personal cost. She knows he’s out there and will risk all to be reunited.
The author, R.L. Bartram, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Today, August 4, 2013, is the ninety-ninth anniversary of England’s entry into World War I. There could not be a more fitting day to review a novel about those left behind. Bartram has clearly done a great deal of research in an effort to convey an authentic experience. Dance the Moon Down follows the uncertainty and desperation of the time on the homefront. It gives the reader an idea of how quickly the world changed and how those at home were changed.
Victoria starts out an immature young woman who isn’t sure where she wants to go in life. When she meets Gerald, all that changes. Victoria grows immeasurably over the course of the novel but in a realistic sense. World War I is not the slap in the face that changes her completely. She still, as people do, has some of the less attractive qualities we witness early on in the novel, but as life changes — so does she very gradually.
The historical detail in Dance the Moon Down is stunning. I can see high-school students experiencing this novel as required reading. Much is written about the war experience, but there’s not much out there about those left behind during the Great War. To include the suffrage movement through the fabulous character of Beryl Whittaker made for an even more in-depth social plot line. Beryl speaks loudly, the opinion of feminists now as well as then proving that as far as we have come, we still have a distance to travel. Beryl says at one point in the novel that marriage is a fine option for women but should not be the only option. War heightens the need for a cooperative homefront and aids the cause of equality but is it an equality that lasts? While Beryl felt betrayed by Victoria defection to marriage, the author formed a bond between the women that served them both in the progression of the storyline and the reader in the social experience of the time. While it must be tempting for authors to write feminists as haters of love and romance, Bartram balances Beryl’s hard edge with a sweet and soft love of her own.
As much as I would have loved to experience more of Gerald’s storyline, the true focus of the novel would not have allowed such drastic a switch. It must be said as well that there is a wealth of information about the war experience and those brave soldiers on the front lines.
Dance the Moon Down is a lovely story of a very harsh time. I recommend it to anyone who gravitates toward stories of the times that try us. If you have a child studying World War I, Dance the Moon Down could be an entertaining resource. Bartram’s story runs the breadth of the human experience in times of war and should not be missed.
If this sounds like a Dance the Moon Down by R.L. Bartram sounds like a book for you, read an excerpt and buy on