Literature / Dancing Shoes

Dancing Shoes (originally released as Wintle's Wonders in the U.K.) is a young adult novel by Noel Streatfeild (not a typo). It is about two sisters: Rachel and Hilary Lennox, one Happily Adopted, living in 1930s England. Initially they live with their mother in a shabby boarding house, but when their mother dies, the girls are adopted by their Uncle Tom and Aunt Cora, and end up trained in dance, with varying degrees of success.

Tropes in this work:

  • Abusive Parents: Cora subjects Rachel, and later Hilary to serious emotional abuse.
  • Apron Matron: Pursey's character is built on this.
  • Beautiful All Along: Rachel. Only Cora can't see it.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: With vain Dulcie as Beauty, studious Rachel as brains and active Hilary as brawn. (While Dulcie is also a dancer her looks are emphasized more.)
  • Blithe Spirit: Hilary takes losing not one, but two sets of parents remarkably well.
  • Bookworm: Rachel.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Hilary has far more talent than she does ambition.
  • Brainy Brunette: Rachel.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: Rachel is a textbook example. She spends most of the book being degraded by Cora and Dulcie for her plainness and difficulties with dancing, only to land a world famous movie role in the final chapter.
  • Determinator: Don't tell Rachel to give up on something. Especially not Hilary's ballet future.
  • Extreme Doormat: Uncle Tom spends most of his time hiding in his art studio and won't interfere with Cora's decisions for Rachel and Hilary, even with how badly Cora treats Rachel and how unhappy Rachel is at being forced to become a dancer.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Rachel is the Responsible to Hilary's Foolish.
  • Genki Girl: Hilary
  • Happily Adopted: Hilary Lennox with Rachel's biological parents. Averted when Cora becomes their guardian, as Rachel is unhappy and treated badly.
  • It's All About Me: Dulcie is this. But Cora encourages. She even buys a television just so they can watch Dulcie.
  • I Can't Dance: Rachel doesn't want to learn to dance, and although she learns enough to leave the beginner's class, she has to think hard about the steps and can't enjoy it. She dreads becoming old enough to get her license to perform.
  • Pride: Dulcie. Her fall is that Rachel gets picked to play the lead role of Vera in a feature film.
  • Plucky Girl: Both Rachel and Hilary.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Lively, outgoing Hilary and shy, bookish Rachel.
  • Stage Mom: Cora Wintle towards her daughter, Dulcie. On the other hand, she is very angry when Hilary or Rachel is more successful than Dulcie in anything.
    • Probably stems from the fact whenever Cora auditioned she was too plain so was always in the chorus.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Dulcie and Hilary.
  • The Unfavourite: Rachel is this to Cora and Dulcie. They make no secret of it at all. Cora's husband Tom, on the other hand, likes Rachel, and she's the clear favorite of their tutor Mrs. Storm, to the point that when Cora tries to send Rachel to the local school, she is forced to change her mind, as Mrs Storm tells her that she will quit if she has to teach Dulcie and Hilary without Rachel.
  • The Verse: The Shoesverse, perhaps? Many of Streatfeild's book featured a character in situations pertaining to dance.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Cora definitely qualifies as a wicked step-aunt.

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