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American Tango

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

A comic novel about men and women, love and loss, grief and healing, regaining passion and, of course, the tango. Rosalind Plumley needs something. She's a thirtysomething aspiring artist in Portland, Oregon whose sole output consists of decorative paintings of hummingbirds for the upscale children's boutique where she works. She’s coping with her marriage to a blocked writer more interested in smoking pot than writing his screenplay about Stalin's pursuit of an ape-man race while her eccentric family (the daughters are all named after Shakespearean heroines) threatens to consume what little sanity she has left. When she hits on the romantic idea that moving to Buenos Aires will restore passion and purpose to her life she has little idea just what she's getting herself into. A tango class leads her on an unexpected journey as she discovers the surprising path of her own desires and a new understanding of her family’s complicated history.

In her enjoyable second novel, Vandever cleverly meshes strikingly eccentric characters with everyday situations. Rosalind Plumley, a 37-year-old Oregonian, is an artist trapped in a retail job that caters to snobby hipsters. She’s the middle child in a bohemian family and married to a sweet but sad man who has a budding marijuana addiction. Amid her failing marriage and struggles with her neurotic family, Rosalind fantasizes about escaping her life and moving to Buenos Aires. She signs up for a tango class in preparation for her imagined future, and what follows is a story about love and reevaluating your dreams when reality comes crashing down. Rosalind can be amusingly gloomy and the story is seasoned with salty wit—she describes a pair of shoes as appearing to have been “dipped in the shimmery gold powder used to kill off a Bond girl,” and when her liberal mother considers a late-in-life romance, the greatest drawback is that the man voted for Romney. Vandever (The Brontë Project) writes smart, interesting characters who gradually mature in believable ways. Perceptive, bittersweet, and sometimes darkly funny, this is light enough for a quick read, yet it has enough depth to leave a satisfying impression. (BookLife)