The Dance Tree: A Novel
“An intriguing, haunting novel pulsing with raw, beautiful emotion. Kiran Millwood-Hargrave effortlessly intertwines the stories of women tenderly and sympathetically, creating a novel in which female courage and resilience shines brightly against a brilliantly evoked backdrop of claustrophobic horror.”—Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne
“Some historical novels don'’ just describe the past, they transport you there . . . An exceptionally beautiful portrait of women from the past, told in the most spellbinding prose.”—Elodie Harper, author of the #1 London Times bestseller The Wolf Den
In this gripping historical novel, the internationally bestselling author of The Mercies weaves a spellbinding tale of fear, transformation, courage, and love in sixteenth-century France.
Strasbourg, 1518. In the midst of a blisteringly hot summer, a lone woman begins to dance in the city square. She dances for days without pause or rest, and when hundreds of other women join her, the men running the city declare a state of emergency and hire musicians to play the Devil out of the mob. Outside the city, pregnant Lisbet lives with her husband and mother-in-law, tending the bees that are the family’s livelihood. Though Lisbet is removed from the frenzy of the dancing plague afflicting the city’s women, her own quiet life is upended by the arrival of her sister-in-law. Nethe has been away for seven years, serving a penance in the mountains for a crime no one will name.
It is a secret Lisbet is determined to uncover. As the city buckles under the beat of a thousand feet, Lisbet becomes caught in a dangerous web of deceit and clandestine passion. Like the women of Strasbourg, she too, is dancing to a dangerous tune. . . .
Set in an era of superstition, hysteria, and extraordinary change, and inspired by true events, The Dance Tree is an impassioned story of family secrets, forbidden love, and women pushed to the edge.
Praise for The Dance Tree: A Novel
"If some prose sings, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s truly dances. Although set in the early sixteenth century, The Dance Tree addresses issues of the utmost importance today—the subjection of women, class inequality, the dangers of religious fundamentalism. Ultimately, however, the book’s wisdom, compassion, and beauty transcend historical boundaries: this is a timeless novel." — Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance and Trust
“The Dance Tree is a feat of tenderness and strength. Each page of Hargrave's luminous prose reminded me of candles in a cathedral. Here is something defiantly bright amidst all the darkness. Here is a tale not only rich with history, but hallowed in its hope and haunting in its grief. Extraordinary.” — Roshani Chokshi, New York Times-bestselling author of The Last Tale of the Flower Bride
“Kiran Millwood Hargrave has a masterly ability to summon the past to the page. The Dance Tree vibrates with urgency; its vivid, compassionate evocation of women and their desires in a time of patriarchal control and mass hysteria is a timely reminder of how far we have come, and how far we have to go.” — Hannah Kent, author of Devotion and The Good People
“An intriguing, haunting novel pulsing with raw, beautiful emotion. Kiran Millwood-Hargrave effortlessly intertwines the stories of women tenderly and sympathetically, creating a novel in which female courage and resilience shines brightly against a brilliantly evoked backdrop of claustrophobic horror.” — Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne
“Exceptionally brilliant. Immersive, sensual, compelling and totally convincing. Accessible, ambitious, The Dance Tree deserves to win prizes.” — Marian Keyes, author of Again, Rache
"Some historical novels don't just describe the past, they transport you there. ... I absolutely loved this book…an exceptionally beautiful portrait of women from the past, told in the most spellbinding prose." — Elodie Harper, author of The Wolf Den
“The Dance Tree is, simply put, a stunning piece of writing. There is so much pain and grief and loss in it, yet in the end, it all comes back to the redemptive power of love. Sensual, gripping, moving.” — Louise O'Neill, bestselling author of Idol
“The Dance Tree hums with intrigue, grief and rebellion, oozes tenderness and love. Fierce as Lisbet’s bees, delicious as honey. A raw, intoxicating novel.” — Joanne Burn, author of The Hemlock Cure