Sunday, 2 June 2019

Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood – review

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.

A Sky Painted Gold was my favourite book of last year so my expectations were exceptionally high for Under a Dancing Star. Somehow, it managed to exceed all of them and I loved it even more than A Sky Painted Gold. It's another deliciously dreamy, romantic and summery book. 

The romance is my absolute favourite thing about it. Laura Wood crafts connections and chemistry between characters so beautifully. The mounting tension between Bea and Ben is incredible and I don't have the words for how good the kissing scenes are... 

I also thought the characters in this book are brilliant. Even the most fleeting of appearances was memorable and the secondary characters had their own stories. I think Ursula was my favourite of them and I would happily read a whole book about her.

The character I liked the most though had to be Bea. She's so smart, strong-willed and hilarious. She had me laughing out loud at some of the situations she found herself in and her character arc through the book was very satisfying. I could also write a whole review about the loveliness of Ben, but I'll keep it brief. Once again, Laura has created an exceptionally appealing book boy and I enjoyed his interactions with Bea so very much.

I found the descriptions in this book so gorgeous and sensory. The settings are evoked brilliantly and the food sounded mouth-wateringly good. 

It's a really creative idea to write a prequel to Much Ado About Nothing and Under a Dancing Star executes it brilliantly. I want to read the play again to see how all of the elements tie in. It felt very well researched  the details of each location and the time period brought the story to life. 

I loved everything about this book and I felt so uplifted by the end. Along with A Sky Painted Gold, this is one of my favourite YA books and I can't wait to have the gorgeous finished copy in my hands.

Thank you to Laura Wood for the beautiful photograph of the book!

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