When We Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor

when-dancedAbout the Book

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again. 

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin. 

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of? 


I read this book last weekend and haven’t stopped thinking about it. Without a doubt, this is my favorite book so far this year and I just know that it will remain in my list of favorites for all-time.

When we Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor begins with Maureen and Brenda moving into a new home with their mum and dad. I was immediately drawn to this family and especially little Brenda. She used to say the most random yet beautiful things. It took a while for me to realize that something wasn’t quite right with some members of the family. Nevertheless, I really liked this family. The story had me hooked from the first page. I think that I was already crying by the third chapter.

Maureen met Jack after this move. She was still quite young but she fell in love from that moment. Through Jack, we got to meet Nelson who stole my own heart. I really liked this boy. He was in the background most of the time but was still a key part of the story. I liked his gentle spirit and just wanted things to work out for him. This kid both broke and warmed my heart. The last person to join this group of friends was Monica. A feisty little girl.

The story takes us through the MCs childhood years all through to their adulthood. The author narrates the story in a way that makes you feel like you really know the MCs. Maureen, Brenda, Nelson, Jack and Monica felt familiar and I liked seeing them go through life through the years. Characterization in this book is so strong that even the support characters stood out. For instance, Peter and Mrs. Bentley only feature in a number of chapters but they are part of the story throughout. I felt like I knew each one of the characters in the mood. I grew attached to them and my heart broke when each one of them went through a difficult time.

The writing of this book is beautiful, poignant and flawless. I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry so much. Not just at the end but I cried thrice while reading this book. The imagery was so good that I could visualize the characters and the setting. I loved the description of the sea and the small towns and when they danced at the end of the pier, I was just right there with them.

When we Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor reminded me of my favorite book, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The setting and time period had a number of similarities. Both books gave me characters that I still think of. Characters who I grew attached to. Characters whose stories broke my heart and made me cry. Part of the story was set in Ireland and I found myself thinking of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. However, although the book reminded me of my favourite books, it was unique in its own ways. The writing and characterization made it different and the story was one of the most beautiful ones that I have ever read.

I have found a new favorite book. This is a book that I will not stop recommending to everyone. It is the most beautiful, heart-breaking story that I have read in a while and I want everyone to read it.





12 thoughts on “When We Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor

  1. Beautiful review, Diana. You also werote it fast 😉 It was indeed a lovely book, a bit saccharine at times, but I had a great time with these characters. Have you read Kate Morton?

      1. She does and the twists are amazing. I think youll like them. My favorite is The secret keeper. Also Forgotten garden and the first, Riverton.

        1. Then I need to find her books. I think that I like this genre more than thrillers. I should probably read more of these books. Thanks for the recommendations.

          1. I’ve read quite some historical books (it’s my second fave after mysteries) and I can give you more recs 😉

          2. Thanks Annie. I will followup on the recs. I am especially interested in historical fiction set around the WWs.

  2. Wonderful review Diana! You and Annie have brought this book onto my radar so I’ll be taking a closer look for sure. I can’t pass up a book you’re saying made you cry..(I love books that make me cry) AND you’re calling one of your all-time favorites and comparing to The Book Thief…that all adds up to a must read for me!!

    1. I hope that you will get a chance to read it soon Renee. Hopefully, you will love it as much as I did. I also like emotional reads and this one totally delivered in all ways. Check it out soon when you get a chance 🙂

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