REVIEW: One Enchanted Evening by Anton Du Beke

Filled with glitz, glamour and of course dancing – this is a stylishly easy book to read from start to finish.

Easy going and charming from start to finish, even if you don’t look at the front cover it is easy to tell that this is a story written by Anton Du Beke. On every page his love of ballroom dancing shines through as well as the compelling way that he emphasises how it feels to move across a dance space – not as a way of showing off but as a way of expressing emotion.

With One Enchanted Evening, readers are invited to step into the glamorous and luxurious Buckingham hotel to find out more about the lives of those involved with the running of the hotel from the managers all the way down to the chambermaids. At the centre of it all is dancer Raymond de Guise who is desperately trying to escape his past and newcomer Nancy Nettleton who dreams of dancing – but as she soon discovers, everyone is hiding a secret at the Buckingham hotel and it is only a matter of time before these secrets are revealed.

Despite this being his debut novel, Anton Du Beke writes with great style and confidence that effectively draws the reader into this glamorous world in which he has created, whilst highlighting the dangerous political tensions that are beginning to brew in 1936. There are moments in which he does have a tendency to focus too much on the glamorous nature of the hotel itself that can distract from the story – but there is no denying that these descriptions make you feel as much part of this world as the characters.

His attention to detail reveals just how engaged Du Beke was in ensuring that in particular the historical elements were portrayed, adding more context to the story itself and the characters caught up in events outside their control.

But there is also an interesting mix of characters to be found that also helps to make this a compelling read. The suave and sophisticated Raymond de Guise who struggles to reconcile his past with his present is a sympathetic and likeable character as his mysterious past comes to light, while new chambermaid Nancy Nettleton might be a dreamer on the surface but deep down she is a sensible and practical person – willing to help anybody as certain dramas in the story reveal. Everywhere, surrounding the love story between Nancy and Raymond, numerous other characters are drawn into the world of the Buckingham Hotel and used effectively throughout.

Effectively capturing the era in which it is set, One Enchanted Evening manages to create a world in which the glitz and glamour of London society and the working class collide to brilliant effect. It also highlights that despite differences in “stations” – there are still some things that unite us all as the references to fascism reveal and the growing political tension exposed becomes evidently more important.

Perfect for those who love historical fiction with a bit of glamour, One Enchanted Evening might not be absolutely perfect in terms of the flow of the narrative (some threads of the plot could have been better entwined into overall story) but it is an enjoyable read.

By Emma Clarendon

One Enchanted Evening is available to buy now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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