It's Just Not Enough — 2 years ago
DeAnna Cameron’s historical fiction novel. The Belly Dancer sounded like the perfect combination of my interests: the Victorian age, belly dancing, and a dash of romance. However, in spite of this, it still managed to be incredibly boring and forced.
The writing itself varied from stale to borderline melodramatic. No matter which it decided to be at that moment, it was never interesting. Even a novel with bad writing can be overcome by a great story and deep characters. Unfortunately, there was neither of these to save The Belly Dancer.
Though the synopsis, as well as many internet reviews, have called this novel a romance, I don’t really understand how people can come to this conclusion. Very little of the novel was dedicated to the budding relationship between Hossom Farouck and Dora, the novel’s protagonist. The majority of their romance consisted of longing glances, brief dialogue exchanges, and then one episode of sex. There should have been an increased focus on the romance or they should have cut it out entirely. I understand the romance’s role in assisting the protagonist’s discovery of her sexuality, but it was not well-executed. It seemed like an afterthought more than anything else and this is made very obvious to the reader. Though the synopsis focuses on her romance with Hossom, the majority of the book is contributed to Dora trying to make her husband sexually attracted to her. It made no sense to me.
The Belly Dancer tries to walk that fine line between romance novel and historical fiction, but instead ends up in this limbo area that simply doesn’t work. It was almost as though she were attempting to write a novel in the vein of Philippa Gregory, but fails because she does not have the same knack for character development or simulating the period through writing. The romance lacked body and passion, while some of the historical information was correct, it was muddled in Cameron’s poor delivery.
Cameron’s treatment of Dora as a character was a large contributor to the novel’s failure. Instead of treating Dora and the entire period from a modern perspective, which seems to be what she was attempting by having a woman who instantly accepted Egyptians, she ends up in another limbo area. She is so eager to please her husband that she knows is being unfaithful and treating her like nothing, something common of the period, but at the same time is completely accepting of other races. It is not at all believable.
It seemed like a good bit of this novel is incomplete. There were so many possibilities that Cameron presents and then doesn’t utilized. Monotonous prose does not help matters at all. If I were to base my opinion of Cameron on this novel, I don’t think I’d be reading another by her again.