Friday, April 29, 2016

*Review* The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: April 19, 2016
Pages: 336


The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.

Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist--but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is a story of forbidden love and family loyalties amid the most devastating war in human history.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

I have been on a bit of a WWII kick lately in my reading, but it has been much more diverse than my childhood WWII binge reading ever was. The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom doesn't really discuss the war much, instead it is largely set in the time leading up to it and immediately after it. It is also largely told from the perspective of Italians living in London, which is a new WWII perspective for me. 

While reading, I couldn't help noticing parallels between the British opinions on the European refugees and the opinions of some Americans about the current Syrian refugees. There were a lot of times while reading when I felt like I was seeing scenarios that I see being played out in my own country today.

I enjoyed this new perspective of an otherwise fairly familiar event. Obviously there are endless personal perspectives available for the events of WWII, but I do typically find myself reading about the "good guys" rather than the "enemy" even though some of the Italians were not fascists themselves.

In the end, the book left me with some questions, but overall it was satisfying. The questions that I still have are not necessarily pertinent to the story, just things for me to continue to wonder about.

Overall I give The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom 4 out of 5 stars because it was unique and interesting. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

ALISON LOVE's short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and in 2013 her story Sophie Stops the Clock was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize. Alison has worked in the theater, television, and public relations. The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is her American fiction debut.


  1. Great review! I really need to read this one...soon...I kinda started.

    1. Thanks. I enjoyed it (although it took me a while to get it read because I kept being interrupted by work.) - Katie