Set in 1931, Freya has always felt out of place in her family, but she’s also always dreamt of being an actress, so one day she decides to run away from home to London to pursue her dream.
Spoiler Free Review:
Content Warnings: unwanted advances (not graphic), mental health
Laura Wood has a way of writing such warm, comforting historical fiction books and this one is no different! This book is technically a sequel to A Sky Painted Gold, but it’s not necessary to read that one before jumping into this one. There are minor spoilers for that book in this one, so if you are planning on reading both, I’d say start with A Sky Painted Gold. Under A Dancing Star is completely independent of these two.
Freya was a really interesting character to follow! She is so dramatic, which I guess helps her with her acting, but she is also so driven, motivated, and optimistic. She has wanted to be an actress since she was a child, so that dream kind of defines her. Watching her be able to get out in the real world for the first time and really learn about herself was so lovely.
I was buried inside my own imagination, and however rich that imagination was, it didn’t, couldn’t, compare to the reality of going out into the world.-pg. 172
Normally, I tend to shy away from historical fiction because it is they end up being quite grim and I have a hard time handling that, but Laura Wood’s books are not like that at all. They mention what is going on in the world, but they aren’t focused on a certain event, which I like a lot. The characters are really at the forefront of the story. There are definitely some hard hitting moments, but overall, they are fairly light books.
Much of this book centers around plays and theater performances. I’ve never really been a fan of plays, but the way Freya describes them not only conveys how much passion she has for theater, but also made me want to go see a play.
There is a romance in this book, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like the focus. There is so much going on for Freya, so many wonderful side characters, and so much atmosphere that the romance is just one element of the story.
One thing I noticed that I really appreciate is that there are some moments that are skipped. The book covers a few months and it is fairly short, so there definitely isn’t time to hear about everything that happened. It gives you the most important moments while still conveying that time is passing. I feel like I read so many books that need to tell you what happened during every second of a day, so it was refreshing to read something other than that.
I really have nothing bad to say about this book! It was just a delightful time! I can firmly say that Laura Wood is one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait for what she releases next!