For me, every release of a book by Suzie is pretty special. I even have my own routine. It has to be Sunday morning when I first read it. I pile all the cushions into the corner of my sofa, make myself a hot chocolate in a wide cup and stuff it full of as many marshmallows as I can. I keep a box of tissues close by (because I know I’m going to cry) and then one, just one milk chocolate hobnob as a treat when I’ve finished. I have to read it in my big green sloppy jumper, which I can tuck my knees into. It might not seem much, but these are important details to get right.
Time simply stopped when I read this wonderful book. Literally stopped. The first clues I had as to how long it had been and how it had completely captured me was when I looked over to my right, at my cup of hot chocolate, stuffed with marshmallows, which had gone cold and solidified. To my left, there was a pile of used tissues from the impact of the sudden loss early in the book had made. It was a perfect Sunday.
The first thing you notice about “the dance” is the stunning cover photo. It’s simply a beautiful close up shot of nature, which hints at the message of the book to come. A bee, captured in the moment, going about it’s everyday business. Fragile. Unaware of the events on a wider scale that impact it. Just being. Moving on, with selfless compassion.
We first meet Jacky and Sophie, whose world collapses when Drew, Sophie’s mother and Jacky, Drew’s partner is killed in a car crash after a sharp exchange with Jacky. The sense of hurt and regret that Jacky feels is the first effect of loss that Suzie explores, along with the fractious nature of Jacky’s relationship with Sophie who overhears a conversation between her parents that changes her feelings towards her stepmother.
This is more than a book about coping or surviving with loss though. It’s about moving on, letting go of that moment of pain and opening your heart up to the possibilities love can bring through living in the moment of something so powerfully simple as nature. Suzie treats us to two superbly crafted, beautifully matched characters who come to find each other through Jacky’s abilities as a “dog whisperer” and Brookes need to treat her over protective dog “Bee”. From their initial encounter, you just want them to fit together. Then there’s the wonderful supporting characters of Brookes Nana and Jacky’s stepdaughter Sophie, who each add new layers to the story through their own personal demons. Writing with confidence and enviable skill, Suzie lets the book flow exquisitely between them. We get to see Jacky and Sophie healing through Brooke’s love and belief that mother nature is the ultimate nurturer. Then there’s Brooke herself, whose role changes as their story unfolds and we get to see her insecurities in trusting Jacky as a new partner. Let’s not forget the wonderful Nana too, who brings a wisdom that only age can know.
It’s a beautifully told and well thought out, gentle love story, whose characters speak to you as a reader on a number of different levels. But the simplest one is the one that the front cover hints at, where the plight of bees is a metaphor for a better world It’s just exquisite. I hope you give yourself the chance to read it and you let its message into your heart. It’s simply beautiful.
You can get it on amazon by clicking here – you really should.