Sunday, December 9, 2012
The Cranes Dance (review)
The Cranes Dance surprised me. I'd never heard anything about it before grabbing the audiobook at the library. I saw it on display at the end of the shelf and thought "Oooo ballerinas" read the description and went "Oooo crazy sister issues" and checked it out.
I didn't expect the slow moving, character driven story. Much like a ballet, it took it's time getting the story out, but did so elegantly.
At first I wasn't sure about the narrator. For the first few minutes her slow pausing speech worried me. But the more I listened the more perfect it became. It is the speech of a ballerina trying to keep control over her life. Kate Crane is the careful controlled sister. In her mind, her whole life is acted in front of an invisible movie audience. She tries to be as perfect as possible. The audiobook narrator took on this persona perfectly with her careful calculated speech.
Kate's sister Gwen is completely different. She's the golden dancer, beautiful and gifted in a way that Kate envies. But she's wild and not quite sane. Without actually being in most of the book, Gwen is a huge force. We meet her through Kate's memories. We get to know Kate by the way she compares herself to Gwen. She lives her life in the shadow of her sister. From taking care of her sister, trying to protect her from her demons, to comparing their dance careers, Kate cannot separate her life from Gwen's.
The story is slow. Near the end there are some scenes that felt unnecessary such as a sex scene that really doesn't advanced the plot. (Sex scenes in audiobooks are always so awkward. These are not things that are meant to be described out loud).
There's a point near the end, no spoilers, where I kept asking "Is the book really going there?" I didn't know how I felt about the direction it was taking. It worried me, made me nervous. But then I realized that mostly, it made me feel. Over the course of the novel, almost without noticing, I'd connected so much with Kate that during this section I felt emotional and a bit teary.
During the last quarter of the novel, there may have been some unnecessary parts but as whole the novel was quite good. Very few books can move this slowly, be almost completely internal dialogue yet work so beautifully.