I couldn’t wait to start reading Slow Waltz In Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller, and now, I’m done with it. It left me feeling kind of disappointed, though.
Slow Waltz In Cedar Bend is the story of Dr. Michael Tillman, a 40-something professor, who meets and falls hopelessly in love with Jellie Braden, wife of co-professor Jimmy Braden. There is something very powerful between them, and Jellie can feel it too. Jellie is a strong woman, cut out for better things than her meek but kind husband Jimmy. So very Bridges Of Madison County-like!
Michael shakes up Jellie’s comfortable world and she escapes to India, looking for some space to think and sort out her feelings. Michael follows her to India and traces her out, in the process unearthing a side of Jellie he had never thought could exist. I would rather not reveal the rest of the story here.
I somehow couldn’t digest the turns the plot takes. The book falls more than a few notches short of The Bridges Of Madison County, and I didn’t have the same warm feeling when I read it. Falling in deep love and always being there for someone is one thing, but isn’t there something like giving ‘space’ to your partner (Jellie was not even Michael’s ‘partner’ officially then), especially when she asks for it? Didn’t she deserve the chance to think about her life and take the decision that she felt was right? I also couldn’t quite accept Jellie’s behaviour towards the end of the story.
The book is simple and short, and a comfortable read. It has oodles of the author’s old-world charm, which I loved in The Bridges Of Madison County and A Thousand Country Roads. It has got lots and lots of cutesy mush, which I loved. Take this for example:
“You walked through the door and something started to hum inside me. The hum has now escalated into a symphonic scream I can’t turn off.”
Slow Waltz In Cedar Bend is as much a novel about lust as it is about love. A lot of times, I had to look at the cover to make sure I was not reading a Mills & Boon.
The book kept me hooked from start to end, though, and I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to find out what happens to Michael and Jellie as fast as I could. However, by the time I finished, I was feeling let down. Maybe I had set up too high standards?
All in all, I would say it is a nice read. An OK-ish book, if not great. Definitely not up to Madison County standards.
I’m now all set to read the other two books I have by the same author – Puerto Vallarta Squeeze and Border Music. Here’s hoping I like them much more than I did this book.