We were mesmerized by Robert Adams. He had been a literature professor, but he also had some stage experience. So his presentation was dramatic, exploring the novel in detail.
His love of this book was obvious. He believed that Zadie Smith was a very good author. In fact, he said, "If she produces a second book of this quality, I will label her a genius." Wow!
So, I had to look really carefully at this book.
The main theme of "Swing Time" was the friendship of two girls while growing up in a disadvantaged section of London, England. They were obsessed with dance- especially Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire and watched many, many dance videos. The novel followed them into later life as they went in different directions. It was interesting to see how their childhood friendship affected their lives.
There was a subplot of a famous entertainer building a girls' school in Africa. There were some thoughts about being a benefactor in another culture. Are you really making their lives better or making their lives what you think they should be? I could have really loved this book.....However, the storyline 'danced' all over and it was hard to follow. Another reader called the storyline "rickashay". Is this a new word, or an alternate spelling of "ricochet"? Whatever! You get the message. The storyline is all over the place.
Also, the narrator was nameless. Shouldn't bother me, but it was harder to relate to her.
The themes of class, race, culture and friendship were fascinating and the writing would have been good if I could have kept track of where we were as it bounced from London to New York to Africa, with different characters coming and going.
She is obviously a well-respected author, having written 6 novels as well as essays and anthologies. But reviews tell me that none of her books have been received as well as her first novel, "White Teeth", written in 2000.