Genre: Romance, Historical, Contemporary
Two women. Two love affairs. One unforgettable story.
Kings Cross station, 1943. Rose arrives in London hoping to swap the drudgery of wartime for romance, glamour and jiving with GIs at Rainbow Corner, the famous dance hall in Piccadilly Circus. As the bombs fall, Rose loses her heart to a pilot but will lose so much more before the war has done its worst.
Las Vegas, present day. A beautiful woman in a wedding dress walks into a seedy bar and asks the first man she sees to marry her. When Leo slips the ring onto Jane's finger, he has no idea that his new wife will stop at nothing to get what she wants. So when Jane meets Rose, now a formidable older lady, there's no love lost between them. But with time running out, can Rose and Jane come together to make peace with the tragic secrets that have always haunted their lives? After the Last Dance is an extraordinary story of two women, separated by time but connected by fate, that will make you believe in the redemptive power of unexpected love.
I forget how much I love what Sarra Manning writes until I read one of her books. This book is a long way from the first book I ever read by her, Guitar Girl, but I love this one just as much as I did that one the first time I ever read it. I'm just sad I waited so long to pick this up and I waited for the most ridiculous of reasons… I didn’t think I’d like it! I may have stopped reading Manning’s young adult fare as I often feel like it is too immature for my own reading tastes, but her adult novels have never failed to please me so it was illogical I chose to ignore this one simply because it included historical elements. Thankfully, my library had a copy and I do not regret borrowing this book at all.
To explain my hesitations I will tell you my reasoning. I am not always a fan of books which are set during WW2, it comes from over studying at school, I think. It’s strange considering I really love TV shows and films set during that same period. This one is written beautifully, though. Rose's story of life in London and everything she did was amazing and utterly heart-breaking. I'm was in tears over her struggles and adored her instantly as soon as she brazenly asked those GI’s a favour at the train station. Rose is what made me fall in love with this book with her bold personality who is willing to run from her home way up north to London simply to avoid joining the land girls. And the adventures she has in London during the war are amazing. These are the kinds of stories I want to know, the hidden ones which you don’t hear much about.
Are other main character, Jane was far less sympathetic a character. She was cold and manipulative and I didn't like her. I didn’t get why I should care about her during the present day when all she seemed to be was a gold digger and a con artist. The fact I loved her by the end of the book demonstrates both her character growth but also Manning's skill as a writer. The progression of her story and how it relates to Rose's was just amazing. I loved the slow reveal we had about both characters as the story progressed and the journey’s the both went through to get them to the end of the book. It was truly amazing and I don’t want to reveal a single thing in this review so you can enjoy it too.
The fact I liked both love stories in this book helped as well. I just couldn't help myself. My only complaint is we didn't learn more about Charles as I adored him so much and how he helped Jane. I would have loved to have known more about his past in the book, but there is little which can be done about that. He will just be a fabulous mysterious stranger.
In the end, this was a really fantastic book and one of my favourite reads of last year. It demonstrated to me both that Manning is a fantastic writer who shouldn’t just limit herself to romance (something which I know her best for) and an author who can tell a wonderful story not matter what year it is set in.
What was the last book you read which surprised you because you had convinced yourself you wouldn’t like it?