You know how you have those books you read first at just the right time? And because of that you just know you’re going to love it forever? Well, that’s exactly what Thursday’s Children by Rumer Godden was for me. Read on to find out exactly why I loved it so much!
First things first: there’s the ballet. Like just about every girl my age, at what point or another, I wanted to be a ballerina. The dresses, the elegance, the dancing… There was just something so entirely enthralling about the entirety of everything that is ballet to me. As a matter of fact, there still is! (No, seriously, I have an entire playlist dedicated to nothing but the making of various ballet productions. So there’s that.) So I guess I was always going to like this book – and there’s the actual story!
Doone Penny, the main character, wants only one thing: to dance. However, the entirety of his family seems to oppose this. The attention of his mother is primarily on his sister. His father and brothers (all gazillion of them) find dancing not something a boy should do. As plenty of others do recognise his talent, Doone finds himself fighting to dance – against his family’s wishes. As he slowly grows from a child with talent to a gifted teenager, the people around him are slowly forced to change their perception. Not only of him, but also of what it means to be a dancer.
The main character, Doone Penny, start out as nothing more than a boy who wants to be just like his sister, Crystal. She talks to the big kids? That’s what he wants to do. Crystal dances? So will Doone. She goes to a ballet class? That’s where you’ll find him. Gradually, however, his love for music and dancing outgrows his admiration for his sister and becomes “his thing”. Not because he wants to be a star. Not because he likes the lifestyle. But because he just plain old loves to dance.
His sister, Crystal Penny, seems to be in many aspects his exact opposite. She is vain, egocentric, and very very competitive. Ever since she was born, her mother has planned for her to be the dancer of the family. Throughout the book, however, Crystal slowly moves away from that idea and starts to figure out who she wants to be. Not a dancer, but Crystal.
This story is truly grounded in the concept of family. As doting and admiring the entire Penny-family is towards Crystal, so lacking of understanding they are towards Doone. Throughout the book, however, this family shows so many good intentions. In many ways, they are a typical British family of their time – and in that way this book actually kind of reminded me of Billy Elliot, the movie. Whether their good intentions always come to the best result (hint: they don’t), they do come from a place of trying to take care of their family. Because of that, they eventually do come around. both where Doone and where Crystal are concerned.
There’s a plethora of other characters that I absolutely loved – from Doone’s first patroness to Ruth and her mother – and a couple that I absolutely loathed (Crystal has got to pick better friends!). The diversity of all of them, however, made for an absolutely amazing, believable story.
It’s really hard for me to give any sort of real judgement on the narration or the style of Rumer Godden. You see, I didn’t actually read it in English until about two years ago. Up until that point, I re-read the Dutch version (Maar ik wil dansen – But I want to dance) every chance I got. And that’s basically the version that’s stuck in my head. That being said, however, I did really love the way in which the story and plot were set up throughout the story. That, as well as the really natural way in which all the characters behaved, basically just made for an amazing reading experience.
I guess by now it’s pretty clear that I really love this book. It’s basically become a part of my childhood at this point, but I like it beyond that. It’s one of those ballet books that I feel like – honestly – just isn’t well known enough. I definitely would recommend it to anybody that wants to read a book that focuses on dance, but at the same time has a gorgeous sort of coming-of-age story. And if you feel like now you want to know what all the buzz is about? You can always buy Thursday’s Children (affiliate link)!
I really do hope you’re going to give this one a chance, because, well… I just love it and so should everybody else!