Shall We Dance? is a bit of a departure from Maggie Alderson’s other novels – the protagonist, Loulou Landers is -gasp!- almost 49 with an adult daughter. I’m not sure who this book is targeted to – ladies in that age range or the age range of her daughter. It took me a while to get used to, reading about a character that is not much younger than my mum. Theo, Loulou’s daughter is 21 and obsessed with chain store shopping, which really didn’t fit in with me either.
Happily, Alderson’s characters are very interesting. There’s Chard, the ageing rock star and Keith the gay best friend. Then there’s Beaney, CEO of chain store West Wind and Mark, a young man with a taste for the older ladies.
In terms of plot, it’s quite simple: the mother-daughter relationship and the question of age and relationships. Loulou seems to spend quite a lot of the first half of the book trying to set up Theo, as she is single-mindedly concerned that Theo has never had a boyfriend. I found this really shallow that in this day and age, that was all Loulou cared about. Not Theo’s happiness or career, but having a partner, going to the extreme of having a matchmaking party with like-minded friends. This is not the modern woman!
Fortunately for Theo, Loulou’s focus then turns to her birthday and Mark, who happens to be young, a great dance partner and madly in love with her. The issue of being a cougar is raised, there’s an awkward birthday party, some dramatic moments and all is right with the world again.
There’s a lot of description of clothes in this book (as Loulou owns a vintage shop) and Theo’s textspeak diary entries could get on your nerves.
This book, while light and interesting, didn’t really fit with me. I strongly believe in women being more than just boyfriend material and at this stage in my life, I’m not really interested in reading about the problems of women with adult children.
Read it if: you’ve ever contemplated being a cougar
7 out of 10.