Review: The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave #20booksofsummer22

This is one of those rare (for me) reviews splurged out immediately after reading the last line of the book, which is telling to how much I was gripped by The Dance Tree‘s final chapters.

Title: The Dance Tree
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Published: 2022 (Picador)
Length: 287
Medium: Hardback from library
Goodreads | Storygraph

It is set in the summer of 1518, in Strasbourg, when a plague of dancing filled the city’s scorching streets. With this as the backdrop, we follow the story of Lisbet Wiler as she navigates family secrets and threats to the family’s beekeeping livelihood in the final weeks of her thirteenth – but first full-term – pregnancy.

I’ve seen this book compared to Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell and The Familiars by Stacey Hall and I agree that it shares themes – love, loss (particularly of children), motherhood, womanhood within a patriarchy, beekeeping, a family story set in the foreground of a historical event.

It’s also its own unique piece. I enjoyed the atmospheric writing that really evoked the city in the scorching summer heat. I liked Lisbet as a protagonist. She had a believable strength and solidity about her. I thought the twists and turns of various relationships in novel were wonderfully executed. There was a gloriously hateable villain, some engaging romance, and several very different futures that the characters you end up rooting for could have been left with the end. I liked the bittersweet and slightly open ended future Millwood Hargrave ended up crafting for them.

7 responses to “Review: The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave #20booksofsummer22”

  1. Glad you enjoyed this Emma. Before yours, Iā€™d read another review of the book which certainly intrigued me, and having read yours now and seeing how much you enjoyed this, I think I will have to bump it up on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hadn’t come across this one before but I have now reserved it at the library. It sounds like the perfect read for 20 Books of Summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah I hope you enjoy it. I found it good for 20 Books of Summer for sure – engaging and interesting but also quite a quick read. I came across Millwood Hargrave through her children’s book ‘Julia and the Shark’ which I found beautiful.


  4. […] The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. A beautiful historical imagining of a family drama told in the foreground of the dancing plague of Strasbourg in 1518. Thoroughly recommend. My review is here. […]


  5. [ā€¦] Dance Tree, crossed my radar thanks to Emma reviewing it as one of her 20 Books of Summer over at Em With Pen. Emma made it sound so appealing that I reserved it at the [ā€¦]


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