‘Learning to Dance by Michael Mayne is a book to keep coming back to. It’s beautifully structured in small chunks, each chapter corresponding to months of the year, and to the dance of life. Mayne looks at everyday human life and the rhythm of the countryside. He covers spirituality, science, the cosmos, pain and suffering, creativity, and the environment.
He shares his enthusiasm for literature and the theatre, quoting familiar and unfamiliar poets and writers. He gives us a sense that the seasons are important — I don’t think that we are as tuned in to this now as we were in the past. It’s important to recognise what the natural world is doing, and that we are part of it.
All the chapters are concerned with dance, like the continually moving patterns of the seasons. “Dancing in the Dark” looks at pain and suffering. Forgiveness is central to our faith, but Mayne doesn’t offer easy answers. He talks about his painful early life (his father, a parish priest, committed suicide when he was three), but without dwelling on it. In “The Dance of Love”, he looks at relationships, including friendship, the ending of relationships, and bereavement.
As a writer, he takes us by the hand. I never felt out of my depth, but there is much to digest and absorb.’
Michael Mayne, Learning to Dance, DLT, £10.95 (£9.85), 978-0232-52434-5.
Margaret McAllister’s High Crag Linn is published by Lion at £5.99; 978-07459-6062-3.
To order Learning to Dance, email the details to Church Times Bookshop