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The Unexpected Waltz

Review

The Unexpected Waltz

Kelly Wilder Madison has always pictured her future stretching out before her, sparkling with possibilities. Yet somehow she finds herself a 52-year-old widow one year after Mark, her much older, ailing husband, dies. Sure, she has plenty of money and no financial worries, but she's rattling around in her enormous fancy home with way too much time on her hands, despite her volunteer work at the local hospice and skill in designing tablescapes for charity functions. She knows how fortunate she is. Yet, how did she come to this state of affairs?

Kelly has just been to see Mark's lawyer since his estate accounts have been settled. The lawyer assures her that her life doesn't need to change. Without touching her investment's principal, she will receive $11,000 each month. Kelly is frustrated that she cannot get an answer when she asks how much money she has in total --- and is even more frustrated with herself for not pressing the matter.

"I often read books that eventually pull me in, but it is an all-too-rare experience for me to browse the first page of a new book and become instantly hooked, as I was with THE UNEXPECTED WALTZ."

As Kelly leaves the lawyer's office, she ponders his statement about her life staying the same. That is the last thing she wants; her life must change. Meanwhile, the hospice for which she volunteers calls her to ask if she's willing to take on a new client. Her morning has rattled her so much that when she shops for groceries, she accidentally shoplifts an apple. She's horrified to discover the unpaid-for fruit in her hand as she approaches her car, so she turns back and opens the door, only to find that she is in the ballroom dance studio next to the grocery store.

Kelly stares around at the big, brightly lit room, taking in the rack of flashy dresses, the Sinatra music that's playing, and the trophies that are alongside framed photos of women with prominent fake eyelashes in the arms of spray-tanned men. She marvels that any place could be so tacky, especially alongside the upscale grocery store she frequents. The receptionist, Quinn, approaches Kelly, who stammers that she is just trying to return to the  store in order to pay for the apple she inadvertently took and that she is not there to learn to dance. But when Quinn asserts that there are no accidents, Kelly finds herself agreeing with her philosophy and willing to take a free introductory dance lesson.

On the telephone with her best friend, Elyse, in Arizona, Kelly describes her experience in the dance studio as falling down a rabbit hole. Elyse assures her that she needs to break out of her life's patterns. When Kelly replies that it's been an entire year since Mark died, Elyse asks when they will be able to talk about Daniel, the married man who broke Kelly's heart. Kelly deflects the topic, but is plunged into deep contemplation about her role in relationships with men. She could never predict what her future holds for her, as she meets her new hospice client and begins the dance lessons.

I often read books that eventually pull me in, but it is an all-too-rare experience for me to browse the first page of a new book and become instantly hooked, as I was with THE UNEXPECTED WALTZ. Happily, my obsession with reading this delightful story never waned. Readers at all stages of their lives will identify with smart, funny, self-deprecating Kelly. We find ourselves urgently needing to join her, by turning yet another page, as she examines her life with painful honesty and then takes steps to change, mapping out a better future. The plot is pleasingly unpredictable with a highly satisfying conclusion.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on June 6, 2014

The Unexpected Waltz
by Kim Wright

  • Publication Date: June 3, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1476754225
  • ISBN-13: 9781476754222