It’s 1968. The world is in turmoil. So is twenty-three-year-old Anna Rossi, who questions everything about her life, from her mostly Jewish heritage to her fear of intimacy. Summer in Europe with a childhood friend offers a perfect way to escape her demons. When her friend abandons her in Italy, Anna makes the rash decision to travel on with strangers. Her journey takes a perilous turn, leading her into conflict in Eastern Europe and into the heart of the Balkans.
Love, Intrigue, Betrayal—Anna must find the strength to survive.
A Note From the Publisher
“…a highly emotive and character-driven narrative that perfectly captures one young woman’s experience of coming of age.” –Readers’ Favorite
“...absolutely compelling reading replete with cultural and psychological insights alike.” –Midwest Book Review
Average rating from 3 members
Anna is a young Jewish-American woman embarking upon the European trip of a lifetime in 1968. She travels with a childhood friend who then abandons her. Alone and unsure, Anna takes a rash decision to travel on with strangers and ends up in a deeply conflicted Eastern Europe and the Balkans. This is a young woman’s voyage of discovery and she will find love, betrayal and intrigue in her path. This is a thoughtful, introspective and intelligent novel with an engaging lead character. I enjoy novels that have many layers to the story and give each one time to fully reveal themselves and that’s what the author has created here. It is slow in parts but it has to be in order to fulfil all its aspects - Bildungsroman, travelogue, historical and cultural. There are beautiful descriptive passages of the places Anna travels through, from cities to countryside and mountain village where people are living a much simpler life than the more privileged one she’s used to back in the USA. I found Anna difficult to understand at times, in terms of her choices and her burning interest in the Balkan region. She describes herself as ‘useless, weak, a set of clashing impulses’. This is someone who feels they need a defining adventure to really find out who they are. Her sheltered middle class upbringing has left her introspective and unsure. She doesn’t seem to feel settled in her Jewish identity either, so doesn’t always reveal it. This could be because previous anti-semitism has left her feeling vulnerable, but that’s not the whole story. She’s very naive and curious which can be a dangerous combination. She decides to carry on backpacking with a young man she’s met, but then along comes Max in an expensive car. He’s German and on his way through to Yugoslavia and Anna decides to go with him instead. I wasn’t sure whether it was really the destination that attracted her, or Max himself and the potential money he might offer, given the car he’s driving. Max has an ulterior motive, he’s a smuggler and the car is his contraband. He thinks Anna as an American would look genuine to border officials and help the journey run more smoothly. She helps him and they go on into the turbulent Balkans and she’s introduced to Spiro and his associates. Although she and Spiro become lovers, she is also seduced by the rich culture, the people and the whole tortured history of the region caused by differences in culture, ethnicity and religion. I really didn’t know whether staying in Spiro’s mountain cottage and becoming domestic would really be enough for her long term. I almost felt she was playing at being poor and living the simple life, because she always has the option of going home. If fate doesn’t intervene before then, This is a novel that is so passionate: in its love story, in the people of Yugoslavia and their need to hold on to their different customs and heritage. It is a about finding yourself and your place in a very complicated world. I thought it was beautifully written, with complex characters and huge themes that we all have to come to terms with in life such as who we are, what we believe, who are our people and where do we belong.
Anna's Dance: A Balkan Odyssey By: Michelle Levy As the story begins, in the early summer of 1968, Anna finds herself abandoned by her travel partner, Claudia, in Trieste, Italy. Anna's parents had generously sponsored her trip to Europe. Anna was glad to escape the unrest of America (Martin Luther, Vietnam, etc) for a European dream vacation. Abandoned but not discouraged, she hooks up with Peter, a Dane. Hitchhiking, they are picked up by Max in a luxurious Mercedes. Max immediately identifies himself as German, although his Greek fisherman's cap and his fine lightweight linen blazer, speak of "other" places.... For Max and Anna, there is an immediate "connection" ...When Max offers to drive Peter and Anna to Turkey and then to Greece, Peter opts out, but Anna, accepts. This journey takes Anna deep into the history of the "Macedonians" and the J.ews of "Bulgaria" and Greece. This book challenged me, because of my non-existent knowledge of the history of the people of Macedonia. Their history is complex, and Michelle Levy does a fantastic job, gradually explaining it, using the characters in the novel. In addition, Michelle Levy explains the history of the Jews of Bulgaria and Greece. Both the Macedonians and the Jews suffered as these territories were fought over by communists (Soviet Union), fascists (Germany and Italy), and the United Staes. Reading this was an "eye opening" experience for me. I learned so much. I highly recommend #AnnasDance:aBalkanOdyssey by #michellelevy. Thank you #netgalley and #blavkrosewriting for this book in return for my honest review. #5stars