Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christian Fiction Book Club-Dancing On Glass by Pamela Ewen

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Book Club! Today we are discussing Dancing On Glass by Pamela Ewen.

Here is my review:

Amalise Catoir is a law student in New Orleans. She works at a cafe to support her continued education. Having been raised in a quiet bayou town she enjoys living in the busy city.

She meets Phillip Sharp one day when she steps into an art gallery to get out of the rain. He is showing his paintings. Although his paintings disturb Amalise she is drawn to Phillip. He wants to paint Amalise. She is drawn to him and determined to love and protect him from his pitiful childhood.

Even though Amalise is warned by her best friend from childhood Jude, she is determined to pursue her relationship with Phillip. She enters into a hasty marriage with him. Even before she marries him there are signs of Phillips dark moods. He and Amalise attend church together a couple of times but Phillip is not interested. Amalise feels that if she loves him enough and gives him time that he will eventually come to church.

Once Amalise graduates from law school she is offered a job with a law firm in New Orleans. As a new lawyer she is expected to put in long hours and attend many parties. Phillip is not happy with the long hours nor is he happy to attend the parties with her. He keeps tabs on every hour of her day. He wants to know where she is at all times and with whom she is with. Soon he not only is manipulating Amalise with his words, but he also resorts to violence causing Amalise to tread lightly when she is with him.

Hiding Phillips true character from her parents, Jude and her co-workers, Amalise has nowhere to turn but to her Abba Father. Things soon fall apart when Amalise finds Phillip with another young girl. Determined to leave him she packs for a business trip telling herself that she will never go back to him. This action sends Phillip over the edge and the consequences are devastating.

This was such a well-written book. I was invested in Amalise’s character. I felt frustrated with her that she couldn’t see Phillip’s true character. But the author does explain how Amalise was manipulated. Although the subject of the book was dark the author was able to show how God can and will forgive us our mistakes and give us new life.

I give Dancing On Glass:

Discussion Questions that I chose:

1.             In the first chapter of Dancing on Glass, Amalise is introduced to Phillip Sharp through his paintings on show in Porter Gallery, on Royal Street. Often the work of an artist reflects the mind of its creator. What warning do the paintings offer at first glance to Amalise about the artist’s character? What are some other clues to his character that emerge early on in the story—warning signs?
His paintings of women are very dark. They all have vacant eyes. I think it reflects on his feelings towards women. I think the paintings themselves were a warning for Amalise to stay away from Phillip. They disturbed her and she should have heeded those uneasy feelings. There were so many warning signs that I wanted to smack some smarts into Amalise! A couple of things that I can remember; when Phillip wanted to paint her unclothed, when she finds that he really wasn’t a professor after leading her to believe he was, using his “poor me” story to manipulate Amalise’s feelings and so many more things. 

The ancient Greeks placed the concept of love into four categories: friendship; natural affection, such as maternal and familial love; passionate or sensual love; and God’s love. Which category most closely fits the bond that ties Amalise to Phillip? (Clue: My opinion? Not the obvious.) In your opinion, what category most closely fits the bond that Amalise feels for Jude?

             I think that Amalise had a maternal bond to Phillip. He made her feel sorry for him. That brought out her mother instincts to protect him. As far as Amalise and Jude are concerned I think that it is a friendship bond that could potentially turn into a passionate bond once Amalise heals from her relationship with Phillip. 

.              Phillip says to Amalise: “When you’re not with me, I’m not alive…I don’t exist without you.” Variations of that thought appear throughout the book. What does Phillip mean by this? How does this affect Amalise’s emotional bond to her husband in the relationship?
              I think those words are another ploy for Phillip to get Amalise to feel sorry for him.  It’s another manipulation of emotions. Also it is another way of separating her from her friends and family. He has made Amalise feel that she is the only one that cares for him and therefore she feels guilty if she is friends with someone else. 

Women today have choices about our lives that our grandmothers never had. A recent study at UC Hastings Law School found that in the current recession more than 50% of the jobs in 2011 are held by women, and statistically women working  outside the home in two-income families are earning more than their working husbands. And yet women are still struggling to balance jobs and home life. Over time Phillip’s demands on Amalise’s increase. Once she’s a full-fledged lawyer at Mangen & Morris, her old habit of prioritizing expands into an attempt to balance home and her career by compartmentalizing. Do you think this was effective, given the situation and her relationship with Phillip?
           When expected to give 100% at work and 100% at home something is going to give. It is not very effective in Amalise’s case. Phillip becomes more abusive and she becomes more exhausted. It eventually all blows up.
                                                               i.      Whether working inside or outside the home, how do you find balance in your life?
Marriage is a partnership. When I was working full time it took both my husband and I working together to keep things going in the household. We helped each other get dinner ready each night. We both do the grocery shopping. There are many other things that we share the responsibility for. We both have strengths and weaknesses.

Did Dancing on Glass offer any new insight for you as to why strong women sometimes stand by their man no matter what? Do you believe that Christian faith requires this in a relationship like Amalise and Phillip’s?
            Not ever having been in an abusive relationship I have a hard time understanding how a woman can stay with a man that abuses either verbally or physically. Even after finishing the book I still have a hard time with the fact that Amalise put up with so much from Phillip.  I do not think that any woman should stay in a relationship that is abusive just because they are Christian.

Sorry for the wonky post in parts. The only way I could figure out to fix this was to delete and start over and I didn't want to do that! 

Now it is your turn. Link up and let's discuss what you all thought about the book!


1.      In


  1. Thanks for hosting. I appreciate your thoughts on the book. Looking forward to reading other's views.

  2. Thanks for hosting! I also had a hard time understanding how she could have put up with so much from Phillip. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Wow, this review reminds me of another book club pick, Words by Ginny Yttrup. It sounds like a dark topic that I would never ordinary pick up, but turns out to be a fantastic read. Thanks for hosting this month Julie!

  4. Yes Joy exactly! Words was also disturbing, but one that was hard to put down. This was the same. Book club is slim this month. But it is still fun.