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Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend

Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend

3.4 9
by Robert James Waller

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The author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Bridges of Madison County once again brings characters and situations with his special blend of lyricism and magic. This is a bittersweet story about two good people who discover that true love, when it comes, is rarely fair, or right--or without pain.


The author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Bridges of Madison County once again brings characters and situations with his special blend of lyricism and magic. This is a bittersweet story about two good people who discover that true love, when it comes, is rarely fair, or right--or without pain.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Only little old ladies with blue permed hair need be wary of Waller's second foray into fiction: this time around, his saccharine tale of middle-aged lovers gets to sex scenes right away. When Michael Tillman, an Iowa economics professor with a rebel streak, first lays eyes on his colleague's wife, Jellie Branden, he immediately wonders ``how it would feel to grab a big handful of her hair and bend her over the dean's kitchen table.'' A few pages later--still in the first chapter--he is fantasizing about stripping Jellie naked and flying to the Seychelles. Though it takes a while to consummate their passion, Jellie is an iconoclast too: like Mike, she smokes and wears jeans to faculty parties, and she is pretty good in the sex fantasy department herself. But Jellie has a Dark Secret (no surprise to the reader when it is revealed) and Michael must go tearing off to India to try to locate her when she runs away from Cedar Bend. Waller's attempt at academic satire is a dud, but he renders the Indian settings quite effectively. An encounter with a tiger is just the sort of sentimental flourish that fans of The Bridges of Madison County will get teary-eyed over; and there's even a coy reference to Robert Kincaid to evoke the earlier novel. To the main question--will this book please Waller's fans?--the answer is a resounding Yes. Movie rights to 20th Century Fox; BOMC main selection; QPB alternate; author tour. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Michael Tillman, a tenured economics professor enjoying his role of academic maverick, feels an immediate attraction to Jellie Braden when she walks into a dean's reception with her husband. Their common past experiences in India provide a basis for friendship, which develops into a spiritual link; Michael realizes that he has waited a lifetime to meet Jellie. Within a year, their love intensifies, and the affair is consummated. Yet there is much Michael doesn't know about Jellie, and her sudden, unannounced visit to India prompts his quest for the secret of her past. The surreal-man-and-married-woman love affair is reminiscent of the author's current bestseller, The Bridges of Madison County ( LJ 3/1/92), but Waller economically imbues his plot and characters with life's truths in a manner many will find enthralling. Recommended for most collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/93.-- Kimberly Martin, Washington Univ. Law Lib., St. Louis
John Mort
Michael Tillman is a rather conventionally unconventional economics professor in Cedar Bend (modeled on Cedar Falls?), Iowa. He rides around on a vintage motorcycle and avoids affairs with co-eds. He avoids affairs with everyone, in fact, until he locks eyes with Jellie Braden, wife of the new professor in town, a plodding, decent sort whom Jellie married at a time when she needed to calm her turbulent life. Yes, she's a woman with a past. Michael and Jellie struggle nobly to stay out of bed, and fail, but this is their destiny, after all. Still, the new love is so overwhelming and confusing for Jellie that she heads off to India, where she confronts her complicated past. Her husband, a practical man, takes the blow passively, but romantic Michael cuts his classes short and tracks Jellie to a remote hotel. With a glitch or two, the two live happily ever after. Just a formula romance, but Waller delivers it in sophisticated fashion, with a sustained, gentle satire of academia and an entertaining trek through India. His send-up of campus sexual politics is quite amusing. And he has a gift for quick characterizations, describing one Indian woman's beautiful face as enough "to launch a thousand Porsches back in the States." Waller may shortly have two entries on the best-seller lists, this one nuzzling cozily alongside "The Bridges of Madison County".
Kirkus Reviews
A second wafer-thin romance from the author of The Bridges of Madison County, the debut novel propelled by Wallermania onto the bestseller lists, where it still reigns supreme. A middle-aged man and woman (she's married, he's not) meet by chance in the Midwest and feel the earth move under their feet. Sound familiar? Far from burning his Bridges, Waller has repeated its premise. Why change a winning formula? And why tinker with your male lead when you've got him down pat? Like his prototype—Robert Kincaid, a restless free spirit who "lived in strange, haunted places"—Michael Tillman "lived in his own far places." Loner Kincaid's buddy was Harry, an old pickup truck; loner Tillman's buddy is the Shadow, an ancient motorbike. Kincaid was "one of the last cowboys"; Tillman has traces of "a hard-drinking, hard- cussing, nineteenth-century keelboatman." Yes, Tillman may be a tenured economics professor, but he is also the faculty rebel who roams the classroom barefoot as he teaches Boolean algebra and the Archimedean dilemma. When Jellie Braden (wife of prissy fellow- academic Jimmy Braden) walks into his life, she starts a hum inside him that will become "a symphonic scream." After months of pussyfooting, they become lovers; two weeks later, needing "space and time," Jellie decamps to India, where she lived in mysterious circumstances pre-Jimmy. Could she be reuniting with an Indian lover? Nothing daunted, Michael tracks Jellie down to a tiger reserve in the jungle ("Where else have men ever settled their affairs?...The warrior had come to fight for his woman"). Jellie does indeed have a Big Secret, but it doesn't impede the blissful reunion of the lovers or their returnstateside, where Jimmy cheerfully moves out of their way. With its sliver of suspense, this is a marginally better product than the dreadful Bridges—slicker, not quite so soppy. It should make Waller's army of fans delirious. (Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for November; First printing of 400,000+).

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.63(d)

Meet the Author

Robert James Waller lived on a remote ranch in the high-desert mountains of Texas, where he pursued his interests in writing, photography, music, economics, and mathematics. He was the New York Times bestselling author The Bridges of Madison County, which has sold over 10 million copies, was adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep and Clintwood and also a Broadway musical; and its epilogue A Thousand Country Roads. He died in his home at age 77.

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Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Waller wrote Bridges of Madison County, but Cedar Bend is amazing. It's an exquisite story about love, lost and found, and secrets revealed. One man's quest for his soul's match will lead him to India, through the most poetic of language.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great dialogue and perceptions thru the eyes of main character.Wonderful story that moves right along.Nice realistic ending. I am anxious to read another of his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beatifully written. A wonderful story with historic elements and the realilty of relationships and love. I believed every word and was sad it had to end.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book spoke to me like no other recently. I knew the University, I knew the staff, the professors, and the students. The graduate schools and the universities I have attended and taught at were places where I experienced situation like the ones with the dean and the secretaries. I never knew a Jellie, but I knew international and domestic students who had mysterious pasts and were hiding, exploring or other wise trying to get by... thanks Robert.