The Merchant of Venice Beach
by Celia Bonaduce
Date Published: 8/1/2013
The Rollicking Bun--Home of the Epic Scone--is the center of Suzanna Wolf's life. Part tea shop, part bookstore, part home, it's everything she's ever wanted right on the Venice Beach boardwalk, including partnership with her two best friends from high school, Eric and Fernando. But with thirty-three just around the corner, suddenly Suzanna wants something more--something strictly her own. Salsa lessons, especially with a gorgeous instructor, seem like a good start--a harmless secret, and just maybe the start of a fling. But before she knows it, Suzanna is learning steps she never imagined--and dancing her way into confusion.
What I say (review): Suzanna owns a tearoom/bookstore and lives above it with her two best friends. In The Merchant of Venice Beach Suzanna reflects on her past, analyses the present and worries about the future. She's not big on change, in fact she hates it.
Suzanna's voice is quirky and cute and the joy for me was her awkwardness. When certain aspects of her life seem to be changing, Suzanna feels like she's stuck in some sort of rut so she decides to learn to Salsa dance (this may or may not have something to do with the hot instructor). Her dance lessons result in some hilarious moments; one small white lie (or lie by omission) massively spirals.
The tearoom sounds like my kinda place, I could totally visualise it and saw the tearoom as another character. I really appreciated Suzanna's friendship with Eric and Fernando. I enjoyed the three of them together. When we got flashbacks of them in high school I found it obvious what was going on with Eric.
Although I really liked Suzanna's awkwardness I did get a bit lost at times. She often went on many tangents and I found her slightly juvenile at times.
I didn't understand her fascination with a certain dancer and also got slightly frustrated with Suzanna's response to Carla. I enjoyed the story (even with the rather abrupt ending) - Also I'll never be able to look at a greenhouse in quite the same way again!
3 Stars in my Sky!
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Suzanna was in a panic. After several futile attempts at looking for shoes on-line, it became clear she was never going to have enough alone time to really investigate the subject properly. All the research she did manage just brought about more questions, not less and Suzanna had to admit that she really needed some expert help in finding the right shoes. Now her first salsa lesson was looming, and she had somehow not managed to find the time to go to Dante’s Dancewear. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted, but she knew she couldn’t show up at the studio in the wrong shoes…whatever that meant!
Slipping away from The Bun as soon as the afternoon tea crowd had settled down, Suzanna pointed her Smart Car towards Westwood Boulevard, where Dante’s Dancewear beckoned. Suzanna walked noiselessly into the store, ready to appear confident and assured. After all, she didn’t know everything, but she knew she wanted “character shoes.”
“You don’t want character shoes,” said the stone-faced skeleton behind the counter.
It’s times like these when Suzanna remembered why she never left her comfort zone. When she was managing The Bun or hanging out with Fernando and Eric, curve balls like this were never hurled at her. The little self-doubts pricked at her like tiny toothpicks, but she pulled myself together, arched an eyebrow and breathed… “Oh?”
“A character shoe has a leather sole. You want a suede sole for classes.”
“Oh,” she paused emphatically. And then, because she couldn’t stand not knowing, added, “Why?”
“The suede glides on the wood floor,” she replied, “and a suede soled shoe is lighter and easier to dance in for long periods of time.”
It took Suzanna a moment to let go of her character-shoes-dream, but since her character-shoes-dream was only about a week old, she found she could easily replace it with the new, more dance-centric suede-sole dance-shoes dream. Because, make no mistake, she planned on dancing for long periods of time!
She asked the skeleton to show her some suede-soled dance shoes that would lend themselves to sensuous salsa.
“What color?” She asked.
Red? Too showy. White? Too virginal.
“Black!” Suzanna said.
“You don’t want black.”
Suzanna left Dante’s Dancewear a little more unsteady and a lot less sure of herself than when she entered, but she had to congratulate herself. She had bought her dance shoes.
They were beige.
Apparently in the dance world, one referred to “shoes” in the singular. You bought a “shoe” and somehow your other foot magically got shod. According to the skeleton, one did not want a shoe that stood out. One wanted a shoe that blended in. Suzanna argued that the whole point of dance lessons was that she was damn SICK of fitting in. The skeleton replied that she wanted her form and herself to stand out – not her feet.
“Beige hides footwork mistakes,” she said.
So Suzanna bought beige.
Suzanna clicked off the alarm in her Smart Car and hid her clandestine purchase in what was passing for a trunk in the vehicle that was passing for a car. Suzanna wondered briefly if the hot dance instructor would be impressed with her wise choice of a beige shoe. She looked down at her iPhone calendar – she’d find out in less than 4 hours.