Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood
In grey, 1930s England, Bea has grown up kicking against the conventions of the time, all the while knowing that she will one day have to marry someone her parents choose – someone rich enough to keep the family estate alive. But she longs for so much more – for adventure, excitement, travel, and maybe even romance.
When she gets the chance to spend the summer in Italy with her bohemian uncle and his fiancée, a whole world is opened up to Bea – a world that includes Ben, a cocky young artist who just happens to be infuriatingly handsome too. Sparks fly between the quick-witted pair until one night, under the stars, a challenge is set: can Bea and Ben put aside their teasing and have the perfect summer romance?
With their new friends gleefully setting the rules for their fling, Bea and Ben can agree on one thing at least: they absolutely, positively will not, cannot fall in love…
A long, hot summer of kisses and mischief unfolds – but storm clouds are gathering across Europe, and home is calling. Every summer has to end – but for Bea, this might be just the beginning.
It seems to me that Laura is set on making me love her books on things I do not like. She did it first with A Sky Painted Gold, a “Gatsby” like kind of book (I do not like Gatsby at all), and now she’s done it with Under a Dancing Star for Shakespeare.
Her ideas are a different take on things, for Under a Dancing Star, she asks, “What made Bea and Ben in Much Ado About Nothing, get to that point where the play starts?” and she does it masterfully. Not only for the main two characters, but for the whole ensemble, and I loved it deeply.
There is a lot of care into the fashion part and on setting the scene and the feel for it, which is also delightful and makes you feel like you’re there chatting with the artists, sharing a lazy dinner with them.
The banter and teasing between Bea and Ben is glorious! I laughed a lot throughout the book and also giggled and smiled. Oh, if I had the guts Bea does. And maybe a younger me did have some of that. Plus it is nice to see her blossom into herself rather than stay in the shell of what her parents want for and from her.
Highly recommended alongside A Sky Painted Gold.