Dance on my Grave

A Life and a Death
In Four Parts
One Hundred and Seventeen Bits
Six Running Reports
and Two Press Clippings
with a few jokes
a puzzle or three
some footnotes
and a fiasco now and then
to help the story along

A promise is a promise - no matter how hard it is to keep.

Summaries from Reviews:

'Hal Robinson of Southend, England, is intelligent, witty, self-deprecating, and somewhat innocent. During his sixteenth summer, friendship and then romance blossom between him and the self-confident Barry Gorman. When Barry dies in a motorcycle crash, Hal is driven to re-creating the events of the summer in a vivid colloquial account that conveys the emotional upheaval he is enduring after Barry's death. The account is preceded by news clippings and interspersed with reports made by the social worker assigned to investigate Hal's state of mind after his alleged desecration of his former lover's grave. [] The author is marvellously gifted at suggesting the ecstasy and insecurity that accompany new love - including its emotional and physical, social and spiritual aspects. A major strength of the book, the central conflict hinges not on the lovers being gay, but on their having two idiosyncratic and contradictory personalities.' The Horn Book

'"If I die first you dance on my grave,' Barry makes Hal promise. Barry's melodramatic request of his lover is fully in character with who Barry is, or who he believes he is: a fast living, fast loving, fast driving rake and seducer. Hal is the opposite: he thinks he has found in Barry his "boy with the magic beans," a bosom and eternal friend and lover. Witty and sophisticated [] Elegantly written and full of ideas.' School Library Journal

'Chambers transcends the genre and tells one of the best coming-of-age love stories it has been my privilege to read. To have male feelings so well depicted is a rare treat [] Everything in this book is superb.' Voice of Youth Advocates

A note about The Dance Sequence - click here.

Buy On-line

First published by Bodley Head 1982

Defintions paperback (with Breaktime), January 2007,

ISBN 978-1-862-30288-4, 6.99

All contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise stated.


Of the six novels in the Dance Sequence Dance on My Grave, first published in Britain 1982, has always been the most read and has provoked the most reaction from readers of all ages. Until, that is This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn was published in 2005.

Perhaps the reason is that Dance is a book that tracks the obsessive emotional attachment of one person for another, something most people experience at one time or another, and most often in the teenage years.

All too frequently listed as a 'gay' story, Betty Greenway rightly points out in her critical study, Aidan Chambers: Master Literary Choreographer (The Scarecrow Press, 2006, p 36):

'Although the novel is quite open and matter-of-fact about the main characters' homosexuality homosexuality never becomes an issue to be dealt with. A review in The Horn Book makes the point that many critics did when the book was released: "A major strength of the book, the central conflict hinges not on the lovers being gay, but on their having two idiosyncratic and contradictory personalities." The central conflict is the obsessive love Hal has for Barry But as Hal finds out, Barry doesn't feel the same way.'

It is a story that seems to appeal to theatre and film directors. Three times adapted for the stage, never satisfactorily, there have been nine attempts to film it. A novel that looks at first as if it is virtually a film script soon proves it is something quite else, and has so far daunted all attempts to bring it to the screen.


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