Date Published: November 20, 2014
Haunted by a traumatic incident in his past, Alan Christiansen desperately wants to learn how to dance. After several failed attempts, he stumbles onto Choreographed Ballroom Dance (Round Dance), and begins to make progress. His instructors, Ray and Shelly Tenrio, are famous in the Round Dance world, popular choreographers and featured teachers on the festival circuit. Once married, they are now divorced, but Ray seeks a reconciliation. Shelly's world is turned upside down when one of her nephews is diagnosed with a rare case of thyroid cancer. As his parents fly around the country searching for answers, it falls to Shelly to care for his twin brother. Uncomfortable with children in general and boys in particular, she turns to Alan for help. Thrown together with the sort of man she used to disparage, she discovers hitherto unsuspected talents and depth in Alan, and unsuspected and somewhat unwelcome feelings in herself. In the end, Shelly must choose between the sort of life she's always known with Ray and a life she's only glimpsed with Alan. Along the way, we learn about round dance, romance, thyroid cancer, Silicon Valley startups, the wit and wisdom of Bill Watterson, and what sort of vegetable goes best with tuna-chip casserole
I found this to be a super quick and lite read about something that I had never read about. I like the fact that we are introduced to Round Dancing and the authors do a great job of dumbing it down for those of us who are not familiar with the dance/style.
This story is not just about dancing though, the authors manage to touch on several different themes while introducing compelling characters who are easy to feel for.
Paul and Jean Zimmer are first time authors. “The Bicycle Waltz” began with casual remark by Jean that it would be great if somebody were to write a book featuring their favorite pastime, Choreographed Ballroom Dance (Round Dance). That is, somebody else should write such a book.
But then a story began to form around a germ of an idea Paul had while watching some instructors at a dance festival. Pretty soon, the story had taken on a life of its own. Scenes played out across the kitchen table and the characters became like old friends, crying out to have their story told. Before they knew it, the book had practically written itself.
Paul is, by training, a computer chip designer. He has worked at several large companies, including Hewlett Packard and Cisco, as well as several start-ups, so he had the knowledge to describe this world to readers. He has written many award-winning technical papers, but these are (or are intended to be!) non-fiction. Writing fiction required something of a leap of faith.
Jean trained as a speech therapist, but left the working world to become a full-time mom when their twin sons were born. She is an avid reader, and she knows what makes a story flow. Her detail-oriented approach was the perfect balance to Paul’s impatience to get on with the story, and she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to help craft a story herself.
In addition to their twin sons, the Zimmers have a daughter. It is her thyroid cancer story that Matthew lives in “The Bicycle Waltz”.
The Zimmers have traveled far and wide, and lived in Germany and England. They currently live in Roseville, CA, near Sacramento, where they are active in the local Round Dance community.