Reviews – Dancing Nude in the Moonlight

Dancing 10 cover

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight: 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings. Publisher: Insomniac Press Genre: Fiction (short novel, novella; plus short stories and poetry) Year of Release: 2014 ISBN-10-1554831407/ISBN-13: 978-1554831401 Formats: kindle, paperback

Out of print.

Synopsis: Young Dominican single mother Selena Cruz is trying to make a new life for herself in Antigua, dealing with prejudice, poverty, and her interfering sister. When she meets handsome cricket coach Michael Lindo, her world is turned upside down. The course of true love is never smooth, and Michael and Selena’s story is no exception as they try to bridge the gap between their two cultures and their personal expectations of love. Romantic and delightful, this novella by Joanne C. Hillhouse looks at immigration and cross-cultural relationships in a warm and very human way. Dancing Nude in the Moonlight was first published in 2004 (some images shown are of this earlier edition), and it is reissued here (be sure to purchase this newer edition pictured above) along with selected poems and stories from Joanne C. Hillhouse’s wide collection of work, some new and some previously published in Caribbean, North American, and African literary journals. Edition also includes Dancing fan fiction. First Page



Dancing Nude in the Moonlight was on the reading lists for a couple of schools in Antigua and Barbuda (e.g. Antigua Grammar School and Antigua Girls High School)

“Mine is definitely Dancing Nude in the Moonlight by Joanne Hillhouse. I read it when I was 13 and I think it opened my eyes with regards to the things I could write about and I think that was a very instructive moment in my life that lead me to where I am right now.” – Romance writer Rilzy Adams, talking favourite books on ABS TV, 2021

“A nice, light, summer read for the romantics.” – Search Antigua’s Adult Fiction Summer Reading List, 2011


(book reviews published)
“Likewise, Joanne C. Hillhouse’s 2003 Dancing Nude in the Moonlight and Jamaica Kincaid’s 1997 My Brother leave me awestruck on every re-read by evidence of the crucial role postcolonial literary producers play in setting the agenda for the still fledgling fields of Caribbean gender and sexuality theory. Hillhouse’s and Kincaid’s deconstruction of Antiguan patriarchy not only destabilizes past bad-minded scholarship on family and gender relations in the region. They also offer caution to future scholarship on Caribbean gender and sexuality. The texts assert the necessity of grounding Afro-Antiguan/Caribbean masculinities within the appropriate historical and social sites/matrices. This, they suggest, will produce non-bad-minded accounts of Antiguan and Caribbean expressions of masculinity. Moreover, Kincaid’s My Brother conducts an important probing of the compulsory heterosexuality underpinning Antiguan patriarchy. It also intervenes into the silence around HIV-AIDS and the experiences of men/those living with the disease in the region.” – from “Discretely Antiguan and Distinctly Caribbean” by Dr. Hazra Medica, in the Tongues of the Ocean Antigua and Barbuda issue Read the full essay

“What makes the book a true pleasure is its political edge. Hillhouse arms the characters with larger social conflicts that far outshine the romance…Michael and Selena struggle for romantic survival and for self-definition, despite their histories as discarded children surrounded by bitterness. Every character has some kind of betrayal echoing in their lives. Though no one is innocent, Hillhouse skilfully wraps the reader intimately into the fallout of each character’s experience.” – Broken Pencil, Canada Read the full article

“A narrative that is rich in issues, values, intercultural conflict and gender relations as they present themselves in Antigua today… (the) love story is sensitive, sensuous, well nuanced…” – Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books, 2008

“…a snapshot of what social interaction is/was like in Antigua and Barbuda during a specific period of time. Through the pages of Dancing Nude in the Moonlight future generations will find not just a love story, but a love story that represents one aspect of the nation’s evolution into a multicultural society.” – Antigua Sun, 2008

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight also explores themes of racial and ethnic intolerance, however, the spirit of this narrative is more in the nature of a true love story. Hillhouse cleverly crafts the tale through the eyes of Selena and Michael, alternating each chapter between these two characters…This style provides the reader with both a male and female perspective highlighting how the genders can perceive the same situation so differently…Michael is presented as a determined but sensitive man struggling with the vulnerabilities life has dealt him. This is a rare opportunity for the reader to be exposed to raw Caribbean emotions and feelings…Dancing Nude in the Moonlight is lyrical, sensual and gentle…(it) provide(s) a valuable glimpse of the Caribbean female.” – The Caribbean Writer, 2005

“The Macmillan Caribbean Writers series…has produced several winners…Dancing Nude in the Moonlight is Antiguan novelist Joanne C. Hillhouse’s exploration of the lives of immigrants from the Dominican Republic in Antigua.” – New West Indian Guide Vol. 79 no. 1 & 2 – “Bookshelf 2004” by Richard Price and Sally Price nwig-article-p92_6 – p. 92, 2005

“…a delicious, sensual story…beautifully crafted and simply told…this is a true 21st Century Caribbean love story, packed with issues such as class; prejudice; stereotypes; sex; single parenthood and starting over. All are explored without straying from the heart of the story – falling and staying in love…Joanne is a wonderful vivid writer, whether it is emotions or physical settings, she really takes you there…This book will talk to many of us, especially those who feel outside of the mainstream. It is a hopeful book with prose that is simple and poetic…it is a very good read…Joanne C. Hillhouse’s writing career is well and truly establishing her as the new benchmark in Antiguan literature. She is proof positive that we have so many stories to tell and she tells them really well.” – The Outlet, 2004

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight creates so much depth for its characters that all subplots work together, producing a fantastic fusion of lives that are indeed real. At no time do we get the feeling that ‘this can’t possibly happen’. We can relate to the situations as either clips of our lives, or the lives of people we’ve known or have seen. Turning the last page is almost like saying a final farewell to friends who you won’t see again, but will miss terribly. The emotions of the characters, their ups, their downs, their responses to their situations are so real, you read on because you’re genuinely concerned, you want to know what will happen…For me, personally, it falls into the league of Zee Edgell, Merle Hodge, V. S. Reid, Samuel Selvon and the like, whose novels have found a place on the West Indian category of the English B (Literature) CXC syllabus.” – Antigua Sun, 2008

“In Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Joanne Hillhouse weaves a love story into a narrative of the challenges facing a young family of emigrants from the Dominican Republic to Antigua, exploring themes like the difficulty of trust and the individual’s longing to be at home in the world.” – Caribbean Beat Issue 70, 2004

“It was refreshing…the characters were genuine and easy to identify with.” – Daily Observer, 2004

Mention 1 & Mention 2 – Tim Tim? Bwa Fik! (2021)

“I am usually not a big fan of romance novels, but Joanne Hillhouse’s novels also engage the reader in the island’s socio-political history. As a result, we come away with knowledge that is reflective of the larger Caribbean story. I have lived away from the Caribbean for many decades and reading her novels take me home. I learn a little more about who I am. This novel, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, though fiction, touches on our realities and personal histories. It is the story of broken relationships seeking a path to healing. It is the story of people trying to make themselves whole again. We should bare our souls in order to reveal who we are. We should ‘dance more often in the moonlight.’” – Althea Romeo-Mark, author of The Nakedness of New (2019) Read the full article

“Upon reading the first page of Hillhouse’s second novel, I rolled my eyes so hard they almost fell to the back of my head like dice. I continued, though, because someone I respect had read the book and had good things to say about it. What I discovered was an honest tale about Selena and Michael, two imperfect people who try to love each other as best as they can, while battling all kinds of odds…The novel shows that self-knowledge and self-love need to be alive and well in two people before they decide to build a life together. What happens in the moonlight may not survive the heat of the noonday sun. These are hard lessons for the characters but they’re worth learning because of the stakes involved. In this regard, the question in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight isn’t ‘Can love win?’ Instead, it’s more like ‘How can love win against great odds?’ Hillhouse’s answer satisfied me.” – Love in the Time of Cricket by Nadine Tomlinson, 2018

“It is an honest depiction of attitudes toward cultural mixing and interracial dating….There is no way an Antiguan or an individual who lives on the island cannot relate to this story. The island is too small and the story too concise to be shortsighted. As a returning national, I found it answered many questions as to the cultural dynamics of present day Antigua… I thank Ms. Hillhouse for her intriguing adaptation of such an issue and for being sensitive enough not to choose sides, leaving it up to the reader to draw their own opinion.” – by Claytine Nisbett, author of Life as Josephine, 2011 Read the full article

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight is a story of love between cultures. It goes in depth into the hardships and tensions of immigrant life in Antigua…The writer of this novel, Joanne C. Hillhouse, clearly wrote this novel for readers of romance. Not only that, but she seeks to evoke the themes of racism and love in this novel. Love is slowly nurtured between a single mother and an aimless ‘has been’ Antiguan cricketer who turns out to have an unexpected talent for sports commentary… When the Antiguan Michael meets Selena it is love at first sight for him, but Selena has been too deeply hurt by misplaced love in the past and Michael must take his time to ‘woo’ her with much understanding.” – Convent High School, Dominica, 2009 Read the full article

#Reader Reviews (and shout outs)



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“Why it took me so long to read some of Joanne’s work? I don’t know – perhaps when you live on a small island you too busy looking out to see what’s under your notes, but her writing rings so true for someone who has spent a good part of their life in Antigua. ‘True that’ I found myself saying: first as I read ‘Dancing (Nude) in the Moonlight’, and again – even more so – when I read the ‘Other Writings’ – even though the dialect sometimes got away from me. Time for a ‘Collected Works of Joanne Hillhouse’ I think with lots of her short stories that might keep you awake at night, and more of her poems – so sparely worded, but so powerful.”


“I’d have to say it all really began when I wrote a poem called ‘Ode to Love’ as a response to reading Joanne Hillhouse’s ‘Dancing Nude in the Moonlight’ which I was allowed to perform at the book launch for that book hosted by Best of Books where I was just recently employed.”




Untitled“Still my favourite Joanne C. Hillhouse book. Still think that beyond being a great read it captures a snapshot of a point in time in Antigua and Barbuda and should make us question our biases and pre judgments- the old ones and the new ones. Should be recommended reading both for literature and for sociology at a sixth form level anywhere in the Caribbean and beyond.”

“It’s a really beautiful story, and definitely one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.”

“What stood out to me the most was that Joanne managed to ‘flesh out’ such real characters and spin such a realistic story line into such a small book.”

“I would like to see it in the upper forms or even at the 6th form literature classroom level.”

“…a delightful read. The characters inhabited an Antigua that made me feel that I had gone back home to hear about Roland Prince playing his music, to get a spin on the life that Dominican-Antiguans have after settling in a land where some of their fathers had left to cut sugar cane in Santo Domingo. I gave my book to a Canadian friend to read. I would recommend it to anyone to read; for Antiguans, make sure you add this to your gift list for Christmas. I will.”


“I’ve read two of Joanne C Hillhouse’s novels 𝐌𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡 and 𝐃𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐮𝐝𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭. Both made me feel like I was back home walking the streets of St John’s. It was thrilling being able to read a book that is of my homeland describing places I knew well and I didn’t realise how much I really missed it til her words took me there. I was reminded of pan practise and rushing to choir or dance or netball practise. I was reminded of the beach air and how much of a melting pot Antigua is and of the dark legacy of colonialism that lurks beneath the surface; and how sometimes in order to make it we have to leave it behind …” – Intersect.anu


ladyinsaeng_20200613_001118_0Screenshot_20200618-154445“I did finish reading ‘Dancing Nude in the Moonlight’. I love Joanne C. Hillhouse’s writing so much because she doesn’t shy away from talking about deep issues in our Caribbean societies.”

“Can I just say how much I love the title of this book? It evokes a sense of emotional exposure and vulnerability, a psychic unraveling for the sake of heightened intimacy and understanding. The novel marks the first time I read a romance about people from Antigua and the Dominican Republic. It’s a story that deeply personalizes the trials of immigration, and humanizes those directly affected by it. This is a really engaging and readable love story about fully-realized characters from the Caribbean.”

(My Space)
“I got so caught up in it, I didn’t want it to end.”

“Joanne, I’m mad at you for writing a really good book, and leaving me wanting more with no part two in sight.” – Tameka Jarvis-George, author of Unexpected

“I was blown away by the book, and like many people who reviewed the book, I wanted more…This is a real gem for Antigua and Barbuda and I would love to see this book on the CXC syllabus.” – Observer radio, 2008

“This book was at the top of our list a long time ago.” – Observer radio, 2008

“We have a wonderful book here, written by a wonderful Antiguan, and we want to make sure that every Antiguan understands that we have quality here.” – Observer radio, 2008

(Personal notes)

“(I) thoroughly enjoyed the cultural nuances of Dancing Nude in the Moonlight – your sense of time, place and emotion is palpable and I loved the metaphor of cricket shifting the weight of the clanking chains of slavery.” (via email)

“Today I had the awesome pleasure of finding your book at the house of a lecturer in Colombia. I’ve started reading it and so far I’m intrigued. I felt proud and I just thought that I should share with you. Continue to write awesome work, they are reaching many all over the world.” …. “I finished the book, the very next day and like I thought at the beginning it was great.” (via facebook DM)


Related Links:

Launch release
Launch Gallery 2004
Dancing Again
Character spotlight
Dancing Nude in the Moonlight: a Look Inside


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