Dancing the Charleston by Jacqueline Wilson

We heard Jacqueline Wilson mention Dancing the Charleston the last time we saw her at Cheltenham Literature Festival nearly two years ago (we’ve seen her three times). So I knew we had to buy it as soon as I saw it in Waterstones.

My daughter has loved Jacqueline Wilson for as long as I can remember. She’s 13 now, so she ‘should’ have grown out of her books by now, but does it really matter? Harry Potter books are for children, but adults love them (myself included). After a failure with a YA novel earlier this year, I am happy for her to keep reading Jacquline Wilson for as long as she wants to.

Like my daughter, I love most of Jacqueline Wilson’s books, but Dancing the Charleston is my favourite one for a long time. It is set in 1925 and tells the story of Mona. Mona’s mother died in childbirth and her aunt has raised her. Aunty doesn’t like to talk to Mona about her mother, so Mona goes to talk to her in the graveyard. Mona doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. She lives in a cottage on the edge of the Somerset Estate, and her aunt makes dresses for Lady Somerset. Mona is considered a bit posh for the village children, but too common for the Somersets.

When Lady Somerset dies, everything changes at Somerset Manor. Mona makes a friend when a new member of the Somerset family takes over the estate. Suddenly she is travelling to London, attending exciting parties and hanging out with the Somerset family. But then she finds out a truly devastating secret which turns her life upside down.

This is a beautifully written book, which paints a very vivid picture of middle class 1920s decadence. Things do happen, but it’s all quite gradual. My daughter kept wondering if there was really a twist to the story at all. She wondered if it was going to be ‘another My Sister Jodie‘. In My Sister Jodie, the story only seems to happen right at the very end. The blurb alludes to the secret, but it is revealed very late in the book. I must admit, I’d kind of half guessed it, but not completely. Everything about Dancing the Charleston is way better than My Sister Jodie – the story, the characters and the whole atmosphere of the book.

There is even a familiar face who appears. We guessed who it was straightaway. I thought it was a shame that she revealed her name, it would have been nice for it to have remained a secret that you either got or you didn’t. I’m pretty sure that Jacqueline Wilson is also introducing us to a gay character here, although my daughter didn’t pick up on that.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable read for a 9 to 13 year old, I would definitely recommend Dancing the Charleston.

Dancing the Charleston, Jacqueline Wilson, Book review, Dancing the Charleston by Jacqueline Wilson


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Oh this sounds lovely. What age was your daughter when she started reading Jacqueline Wilson? I am wondering whether to let my eldest read them a bit before age nine. She seems to get on a lot better with books aimed at older children. She loves Harry Potter and How to Tame Your Dragon but I’m not sure whether JW is aimed at older ones for a reason?

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    • There is a small range of Jacqueline Wilson books aimed at younger children and my daughter started reading those at about 6. They include The Mum Minder, Sleepovers and Lizzie Zipmouth. All Jacqueline Wilson books are quite traumatic, with issues like domestic violence and bereavement, so I wouldn’t recommend the majority of her books before the age of 8. There is also a number of books which are aimed more at 11+ too, so they should definitely be avoided.

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    • I’m sure you would enjoy it! I’m too d to have read them as a child, but I was aware of Jacqueline Wilson as a young adult and wanted to read them with a child of my own. Of course my sons wouldn’t read them, but my daughter has loved them since reading her early readers at 6.

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  2. This sounds like a great story. My daughter loves Jacqueline Wilson’s books and I’ve read a couple too but I find the stories that she sets in a different era the most fascinating.


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    • The ones set in the past definitely are the most interesting, although my daughter and I love most of her books. I’m sure you and your daughter would enjoy this one.

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  3. Do you know, I’m quite sad as my eldest no longer reads these books and my other 3 haven’t caught the Jacqueline Wilson bug. #readwithme

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    • That is quite sad! Hopefully one of your younger daughters might grow to love her. I will be sad when my daughter finally gives them up. We’re definitely on borrowed time with them now!

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  4. I loved Jacqueline Wilson books growing up! Can’t wait to read them with BookBairn when she’s older – if she’ll let me that is – she will probably want to read them at rapid pace like I did so no waiting for mum to catch up! #ReadwithMe

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    • You’re making me feel old now! I’m too old to have read Jacqueline Wilson books as a child, but I was aware of them as a young adult and hoped I would get to read them with a child one day. After two boys, I thought I never would, so thank goodness for my daughter!
      I hope BookBairn loves them just as much.

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  5. KayCee and Ella have most of the JW books but I’m not sure if they still read them. I’ve never read them but I do like the sound of this one.

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    • I have read so many Jacqueline Wilson books! My daughter only reads at bedtime and she always likes me to read a bit with her, so I always know exactly what she’s reading.

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  6. I wish I had an excuse to read Jacqueline Wilson, but sadly not with 2 boys. I’ve never read any but always like the sound of them

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    • I totally get that. I always wanted to read them with a child and I started off with two boys, so thought I may never get to read them! It was me that got my daughter into them from a very young age, mainly because I wanted to read them myself.

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