BOOK BY: Jennifer Deibel

A Dance in Donegal starts in America and follows newly minted teacher, Moira Doherty across the ocean to fulfill the final wish of her deceased mother – to take the vacant teaching position in her childhood home of Ballymann. With great hope and aspirations, Moira is sorely disappointed after arriving in the small town as her mission is continually thwarted.

Readers will learn the way of the Irish in this fictional tale, superstition and suspicion are valued above all else. Characters act on these ancient beliefs and treat Moira with contempt for much of her time in Ballymann to her puzzlement. There is a colourful cast of characters – some extremely likeable and others, not so much. Readers will have no problem envisioning the setting in Donegal with the author’s vivid descriptions of the beautiful setting in Ireland.

The pacing is slow to begin with and it doesn’t seem like much is going on. It isn’t until about mid-way through that the story picks up and leads readers through an interesting narrative.

Moira Doherty is a strong believer and many of the pages of this novel are dedicated to scripture, her own meditations and prayers. Yet, when faced with adversity Moira chooses to ignore what she knows is the right thing to do. This reaction didn’t quite fit with her character up to this point, however she had been placed in a difficult position prior to the event with the person in question she’s meant to help.

The main drawback for me was the use of Gaelic throughout the entire novel and the Irish accent written out in dialogue. I had to keep checking the glossary (so glad there was a glossary!) to see what the characters were saying. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if the phrases were sprinkled through the pages instead of front and centre.

All in all, a solid debut by Jennifer Diebel.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.