|Title||To Dance at the Palais Royale|
|Year of Publication||1996|
|Authors||McNaughton, Janet Elizabeth|
|City||St. John's, Nfld|
|Descriptors||Class; Community; Families; Friendship; Historical Fiction; Immigration; Novel; Young Adult|
|Age Range|| |
Growing up in Loughlinter, Scotland is hard for Aggie and her family. As a member of a mining family, Aggie has already lost her brother Dougie to the mines, and continues to watch her family go hungry when the money does not come in. Aggie’s father is a tough man, and often disciplines disobedient family members violently. Life is tough, so when Aggie’s older sister Emma devises a plan for herself and Aggie to move to Canada to work as domestics to help support their family, Aggie agrees to go. After a long and hard journey to Toronto, Aggie finds work as a domestic servant for the Stockwood family. Soon after, Aggie befriends the Stockwood’s son Rodney and his friend Rose. Her new friends, Rose especially, romanticize Aggie’s life and often blur the lines between friend and employee. Despite warnings from her co-worker Mrs. Bradley, Aggie continues to spend time with her upper class friends, and when they invite her to dance at the Palais Royale, Aggie is delighted. However, things begin to unravel when Aggie is forced to come up with more and more lies about who she is; Aggie realizes that perhaps Mrs. Bradley was right about her place in the world. To Dance at the Palais Royale is a young adult historical fiction and is written in the third-person, immediate-engaging.
“I really must get back to work now,” she said. “It’s almost time for lunch and the table’s still covered in silver.” She turned to Rodney. “Thank you,” she said.
“Rosie engineered this, not me,” Rodney said. “But I’m glad she did.” And Aggie ran back to the house.
Mrs. Bradley looked so grim, Aggie was reminded of her first weeks in the Stockwood house.
“You’d better bring the silver in here” she said. Aggie obeyed. She settled down to work, rubbing harder than usual to make up for the time she’d missed. Mrs. Bradley’s disapproval was palpable. Aggie waited for the lecture.
“It may be all right for Rodney and Rose, taking you away from your work, making you feel as if you’re someone you can’t be. But folks like us have got to know our place. Try to be someone you’re not and no good will come of it,” Mrs. Bradley said. To Aggie’s surprise, there was no anger in her voice, just resignation, perhaps even concern. (82)
"Leaving Loughlinter on this road, they passed the cemetery where Dougie was buried. Aggie suddenly realized she’d almost forgotten her brother in the past few days. Now she was leaving and she hadn’t even visited his grave. The black iron fence of cemetery was passing quickly. Could she ask the men to stop? No, there wasn’t time. In any case, she was afraid her father would think she was daft, wasting Mr. Munro’s time. Then the cemetery was gone. Goodbye, Dougie, she thought, goodbye. She was glad the men were absorbed in their conversation. Neither of them noticed when she slipped her handkerchief out of her purse and quickly wiped her eyes." (33)