"If some prose sings, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s truly dances. Although set in the early sixteenth century, The Dance Tree addresses issues of the utmost importance today—the subjection of women, class inequality, the dangers of religious fundamentalism. Ultimately, however, the book’s wisdom, compassion, and beauty transcend historical boundaries: this is a timeless novel."—Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance and Trust
“An intriguing, haunting novel pulsing with raw, beautiful emotion. Kiran Millwood-Hargrave effortlessly intertwines the stories of women tenderly and sympathetically, creating a novel in which female courage and resilience shines brightly against a brilliantly evoked backdrop of claustrophobic horror.”—Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne
In this gripping historical novel, the internationally bestselling author of The Mercies weaves a spellbinding tale of fear, transformation, courage, and love in sixteenth-century France.
Strasbourg, 1518. In the midst of a blisteringly hot summer, a lone woman begins to dance in the city square. She dances for days without pause or rest, and when hundreds of other women join her, the men running the city declare a state of emergency and hire musicians to play the Devil out of the mob. Outside the city, pregnant Lisbet lives with her husband and mother-in-law, tending the bees that are the family’s livelihood. Though Lisbet is removed from the frenzy of the dancing plague afflicting the city’s women, her own quiet life is upended by the arrival of her sister-in-law. Nethe has been away for seven years, serving a penance in the mountains for a crime no one will name.
It is a secret Lisbet is determined to uncover. As the city buckles under the beat of a thousand feet, Lisbet becomes caught in a dangerous web of deceit and clandestine passion. Like the women of Strasbourg, she too, is dancing to a dangerous tune. . . .
Set in an era of superstition, hysteria, and extraordinary change, and inspired by true events, The Dance Tree is an impassioned story of family secrets, forbidden love, and women pushed to the edge.