“Sometimes I wonder if people don’t want freedom as much as they want meaning.”

What is this book about?

An unnamed narrator writes about her life as a pop star’s personal assistant, an old friendship and dance. The book is filled with women who are trying to make their way through life – some more successful than others – and for many of them dance has played a big part in that. But to me, Swing Time isn’t so much about what dance means, but more about how dance is integrated in many different lives in many different ways. The way we live our life is decided by the choices we make and the way we dance is a result of that.

Why is it boring?

I thought the book was quite slow at times. Smith has a very calm writing voice, which can be a little difficult to get hooked on if you’re easily annoyed with characters who enjoy slow pondering on a daily basis.

Who would you recommend it to?

Swing Time deals a lot with problems surrounding race, class and women, but I felt that the struggles and ideas in it were very universal. So don’t write this one off as a book that doesn’t concern you if you’re a rich white man who can’t shake his ass for shit, because you’ll probably enjoy it a lot as well.

Why should I read it if it’s boring?!

I thought Smith had a wonderful writing voice. This was the first book by her that I read and I love how she takes her time to tell a story and to really crawl into someone’s mind. Her descriptions of both London, Amy (the previously mentioned pop star) and the unnamed African village were all so vivid, that I feel like I lived through the story with all of the characters as well. I did think the ending was a little rushed. A lot of time is spend on the narrator and her childhood friendship with Tracey. This was set up very well, making the friendship and subsequent falling out feel entirely real. However, the actual end of our narrator’s story – which is spoiled at the exact beginning – was done with in just several pages. This made the reasons for her being fired feel a little sudden and left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied. Smith’s writing is a joy in itself though and I’m definitely going to be reading her earlier books as well.

Rating: 4/5

Review Copy attained through Netgalley with special thanks to the publisher Penguin UK.

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Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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