DANCING ON GLASS
By Pamela Ewen
Published by B & H
In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama's rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.
In this lawyer's unraveling world, can grace survive Ama's fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?
I was thankful for the review copy of this haunting, suspenseful tale of misguided love and manipulation. I was definitely stirred by Amalise, her situation and how she struggled deep in her soul with trying to do the right thing! But what was the right thing? Her view of that was fading the more time she spent with Phillip.
Amalise is an energetic, hard working college student working her way through law school. She has unexpected feelings for Phillip when they first meet in the coffee bar she works at. He can’t stop looking at her and says, “I want to paint you and capture you for myself.” Amalise thinks this is a little odd but thinks it’s flattering and romantic at the same time. She hasn’t felt this way about anyone before.
She agrees to have him paint her, and is astounded by the time commitment! She wants it to be done and will do whatever it takes to finish it. Phillip is charming and says all the right things to slowly weave his web and draw Amalise to himself. She’s innocent and gets caught up in how much Phillip needs her and how broken hearted he is. She’s deceived into thinking she alone has the love he needs to be whole. She can’t let him down, after all isn’t that what God has called her to do, love the broken hearted? She would love him to Christ and fix his wounded heart. Surely she could do that. Wasn’t it everyone’s call to bring people to Christ?
She begins to change and her friends and family inquire about it, asking if she’s alright? Jude has a heart to heart talk with her and says, “Love and need are two very different things. A real man puts the woman he loves first in his life. He should cherish you above his own needs, protect you, and rejoice when you succeed. Remember the words, Amalise? “Love is patient, love is kind…love isn’t just about feeding a man’s needs.”
Amalise doesn’t listen to her friends she was a romantic at heart and thought it was sweet Phillip needed her. She learns the hard way that only God can fix broken hearts and fill the void inside every human! He is God and we are not! This author talks about very real issues here that are important.
Pamela states, “Although the characters are fictional the problem is real. The bond that held Amalise to Phillip was an illusion created by manipulation. Manipulation is usually hidden first by charm. In personal relationships a man or woman like Phillip consciously or unconsciously seeks someone with strength and compassion to fill a wounding void inside. Understanding and knowledge are the keys…not ALL such relationships reach the level of violent abuse but they create prisons just the same.”
This story could have been ripped from headlines, showing predators in our society and how charming they can be until they move in for the kill, one way or the other. Different characters in the book kept telling Amalise, “There’s just something not right about Phillip.” No one could tell what it was exactly, but I could sense the doom approaching – it was like listening to the haunting, throbbing music in the movie Jaws. Every time you heard it you knew something bad was ahead!
Once Amalise started down a path with Phillip she felt there was no returning to the life she once knew. She loved God but didn’t think she could ask him to forgive her for something she chose to do. She confided in a friend, “Jude was right about choices – this is my consequence – I deserve this.” She also decided she couldn’t tell her parents of the abuse because then they’d feel bad – she couldn’t put them through that. Marriage was forever right? She didn’t deserve another chance.”
Pamela showed how we get in more trouble when we try to play God, and not accept the forgiveness He freely gives. That’s where His Amazing Grace enters our lives. None of us are deserving yet, He loves us while we are in the middle of the pit, not when we are all cleaned up. I liked how the author got across that message. God is the God of the 100th chance! We are never stuck in the middle of abuse because God won’t forgive us or love us for what we’ve done. No, he’s there with arms open wide desiring us to run into them so He can love us through the hard situations and help us make right choices.
The author masterfully revealed multi-layers of a person getting manipulated and used. I was pleasantly surprised by the richness of Pamela’s characters and how real their struggles were. I was fascinated by this story. It’s deep, thought-provoking, and a powerful read you won’t want to miss.
Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
Finding Hope Through Fiction
Dancing on Glass is about a young woman named Amalise Catoir who is studying to be a lawyer in New Orleans. She’s always been self disciplined, but when she meets artist Phillip Sharp, she is drawn to him for reasons she can't explain. Slowly, he begins to manipulate her and cause her to compromise herself and beliefs, until he eventually talks her into marrying him. As time progresses, he keeps dragging her down, but when he becomes abusive, her eyes are open to who he really is but she doesn't know how to escape.
When I first started reading this book I really didn't think it would hold my interest, but I found I had a hard time putting it down. So many times throughout the book I found myself wanting to yell at her, because I could see the type of man Phillip was and wanted to warn her to get away. I honestly didn't know how the story would end, with her escaping or with something tragic happening.
I found this book very interesting. I would recommend it for someone that enjoys more modern fiction with some twists and turns in it.
Reviewed by: Sarah Porter