My Books!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Like I Used to Dance

Like I Used To Dance
by Barbara Frances


GENRE: Fiction



“Oh, Grace, our kids,” laughed Bud. “Where did we go wrong? One marries God, another a Jew and the last one, the devil!”

Texas, 1951. The Wolanskis—Grace, Bud and their three grown children—are a close-knit clan, deeply rooted in their rural community and traditional faith. On their orderly farm, life seems good and tomorrow always holds promise.

But under the surface, it’s a different story. Grace is beset by dark memories and nameless fears that she keeps secret even from Bud. Their son Andy has said no to becoming a farmer like his dad and, worse, fallen in love with a big-city Jewish girl. Youngest child Regina is trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband. Even “perfect” daughter Angela’s decision to become a nun takes an unforeseen turn.

And then Ceil Dollard breezes into town.

Ceil—wealthy, sophisticated, irrepressible—is like a visitor from Mars. She’s a modern woman. She drives a car and wears pants. She blows away tradition and certainty, forcing Grace to face her fears and brave a changing world. Through Ceil, Grace learns about courage and freedom—but at the risk of losing Bud.

Barbara Frances’ sparkling, richly human novel takes you back to a time when Ike was president and life was slower, but people were the same as now. You’ll encounter a cast of characters storm-tossed by change, held together by love. Written with compassion, humor and suspense, Like I Used to Dance will charm you, warm you and even squeeze a few tears, from its opening number to the last waltz.



Bud leaned over her. “Gracie, let me have him for a moment. I want to hold him, too.”

Reluctantly, she handed him over. “Do you still want to call him Peter?”

Bud let out a sob and handed the baby to his mother, who began to leave the room. Grace let out a long shrill scream which lasted until the doctor gave her something that put her under water. She was floating, waving back and forth, to and fro. She saw hazy forms looking down through the surface at her. Even though she couldn’t speak, she could breathe. She looked through the shimmering ripples surrounding her. Was Peter down here with her? He had been swimming for nine months. She wasn’t worried that he didn’t know how.

For days, maybe weeks, the shots kept her under the water. When she finally resurfaced, she was gently told that Peter was buried in the garden next to her Queen Elizabeth roses. “You know he hadn’t been baptized,” Pauline told her. This meant he couldn’t be placed in the family plot at the Catholic cemetery.  Bud’s father sat on the bed and took her hand, “Ground is just ground. Your rose garden is as holy a place as some patch where a priest sprinkled magic water over it.”

The priest came to bless her but she stared at him vacantly. When he began to make the sign of the cross over her head, she raised her hand to ward it off. “I don’t want your blessing. Go bless the devil.” She leaned back on the pillow and closed her eyes. “Put your blessings in that holy cemetery. I’m finished with God.”

My Review

I really enjoyed reading this book. First of all, I enjoyed a glimpse into a way of life that in many places is gone forever.There were some restrictions and social mores that would probably drive modern people nuts, but it was very interesting to read about it.

Second, the main characters are all so likable. They're dealing with serious issues in their lives, but they don't give up, and eventually they do find a HEA.

Third, the book stresses the importance of family in our lives. These people had each other's backs.

Fourth, there are a few surprises that I didn't see coming, and I love to be surprised that way.

I can recommend this one to anybody who likes to read family sagas and about the recent past in rural America. 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Barbara Frances has plenty of stories and a life spent acquiring them. Growing up Catholic on a small Texas farm, her childhood ambition was to become a nun. In ninth grade she entered a boarding school in Our Lady of the Lake Convent as an aspirant, the first of several steps before taking vows. The Sisters were disappointed, however, when she passed up the habit for the University of North Texas, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and Theater Arts.

Her professors were similarly disappointed when she passed up a postgraduate degree to become a stewardess for American Airlines. Barbara, however, never looked back. “In the Sixties, a stewardess was a glamorous occupation.” Some highlights include an evening on the town with Chuck Berry and “opening the bar” for a planeload of young privates on their way to Vietnam.

Barbara eventually returned to Texas and settled down. Marriage, children, school teaching and divorce distracted her from storytelling, but one summer she and a friend coauthored a screenplay. “I never had such fun! I come from a family of storytellers. Relatives would come over and after dinner everyone would tell tales. Sometimes they were even true.”

The next summer Barbara wrote a screenplay on her own. Others followed, including Two Women, a finalist in the 1990 Austin Screenwriters Festival. Three more were optioned: Silent Crossing, The Anniversary and Sojourner Truth. Barbara left teaching and continued to work on her screenplays. In 1992, exhausted by endless rewrites she did something many screenwriters threaten but few carry out. She turned down an option renewal, done forever with writing—or so she thought.

It was not to be. One day a friend’s child found and read Lottie’s Adventure, her script for a children’s movie. At her young fan’s urging, Barbara turned it into a book, published by Positive Imaging, LLC, her husband Bill’s press. For Like I Used to Dance Barbara drew upon childhood memories and “front porch stories.” Her next novel, Shadow’s Way, is a “Southern Gothic tale” about  a woman caught in the struggle to keep her beloved plantation home from a scheming archbishop.

Barbara and her husband Bill Benitez live in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at:

Blog and purchase link:


Barbara Frances will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Use the link below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Mai T. said...

What books have most influenced your life?

Unknown said...

Thanks for hosting and reviewing Barbara's book. She will be replying to comments later today.

James Robert said...

I appreciate you giving us the chance to win, thanks so much

Anonymous said...

Your book sounds awesome.

Victoria Alexander said...

I enjoyed reading your review, thanks for sharing!

Nikolina said...

I was really enjoying following this tour, thank you for all the great blog posts and excerpts!

James Robert said...

Happy Thursday and hope it's a great one for you. Thanks for the giveaway and opportunity to win.