Donna Wootton’s latest novel, Isadora’s Dance, is an intriguing story that skillfully weaves together famous literary families—James Joyce, John Galsworthy, Charles (Lewis) Dodgson and Andre Levinson —into a modern-day adventure. The young Canadian dance researcher, named after dancer Isadora Duncan, arrives at Oxford in 2010 to work on her dissertation about dancer Lucia Joyce, the talented daughter of James Joyce. Isadora is invited to stay with the Galsworthy family while she explores Oxford and its university, bringing the setting to life through Wootton’s rich and colourful description. A highlight of her stay is an opportunity to study expressive dance with Helen Levinson which Wootton again depicts in detail with a touch of humour. After several intimate encounters, Isadora departs for Paris then Italy where she meets the Galsworthy’s son Rufus, and they fall deeply in love. The second part finds the young couple and both their families at the Galsworthy’s Italian villa. But Isadora comes to realize that her father and Antonia Galsworthy have not been truthful with her. Later she travels to Switzerland to join an MMM dance workshop. Margaret Morris was a teacher and mentor to Lucia. I couldn’t put the book down with its various but well-connected threads of both artistic and academic life, travel, romance, adventure, and mystery as Isadora learns to take control of life and express her true self.
Mary Jane Warner, PhD, Professor Emerita, Department of Dance,