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Book Review: First Love, Last Dance by Nancy Rossman

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Set in Atlanta and the Ohio farm region before, during and after World War II, First Love, Last Dance is the touching, heart-warming true story of Elise and Peter, a couple who first fell deeply in love in their late teens/early 20s but weren’t able to reunite until their late 70s.

Told from the point of view of Elise’s daughter Nancy, this memoir begins in Atlanta in the late ’30s and spans several decades all the way to the present.

Elise is a beautiful Southern girl from an upper-class upbringing. At the young age of 19, she meets Peter, the man who sweeps her off her feet. They fall in love. Unfortunately, Elise’s controlling, domineering and old fashioned mother has other plans for her daughter. Believing that Peter isn’t the right match for Elise, she does her best to influence her daughter’s decision until, tragically, she succeeds. Instead of marrying Peter, Elise marries a Navy pilot who, though handsome and smart, isn’t the right person for her. As a young bride, Elise’s life changes radically: her new husband takes her to rural Ohio to work on a farm. Elise is soon torn with bittersweet feelings of frustration and, at times, unhappiness. Then something happens… Each year on her birthday, Elise receives a mystery call from the South…

Though I’m not a big fan of memoirs, I must say I enjoyed reading this one. Written with special attention to detail, First Love, Last Dance is a celebration of love that will warm readers’ hearts. True-love story lovers will relish the hope and optimism in it, while fans of Southern writing will take pleasure in the historical aspect of the setting and characters. The family dynamics in the story are interesting, too, portraying values and traditions particular to the South and the Ohio rural regions. The author wrote the memoir as a gift and tribute to her mother Elise. What a wonderful gift to offer a mother!

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.
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