Friday Book Review – A Chance to Sit Down

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 4th April 2014

IMG_0502One of the best things about writing a blog is that you can bend the rules. They’re your own rules, after all.

So even though my Friday Book Review usually focuses on newly published titles , this week I’ve decided to do something completely different and feature one of my favourite novels.

Sadly – and I have no idea why – A Chance to Sit Down by Meredith Daneman is out of print. It was first published in 1971, although my copy (yellowing and very dog-eared) is the 1981 edition, brought out to coincide with the BBC’s dramatisation of the book.

Meredith Daneman was born and brought up in Australia but won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in London.

A Chance to Sit Down, the first of her four novels, is the pacy and beautifully written story of a young ballet dancer. If you ever wondered what life is like in the tough, unforgiving corps de ballet – where girls are “rangy and lean-bodied,” have thighs that start “six inches apart at the top” and exist on a diet of grapes – this book tells you.

The novel is narrated by the self deprecating Barbara, whose egotistical boyfriend Jack moves his latest conquest – a young dancer in the same company – into the dump of a flat they share.

And then, just when you’re worried that Jack is going to walk all over Barbara she decides to fight back. And best of all, she starts to rebel against the demands of her highly disciplined, punishing ballet company.

I’ve just re-read A Chance to Sit Down for the umpteenth time and even though it’s more than 40 years old I enjoyed it just as much as when I first read it. Why it hasn’t been published as an e-book is utterly mystifying.

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