4 out of 4 stars
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The Last Dance: And A Loving Mother by Stephen Manning by Stephen Manning is a story depicting the real-life events and love story of the author and his wife Mary Ann Lesin.
It begins with the meeting of our protagonists in Chicago and takes the reader along for their ride through love, marriage, life and the loss of loved ones. Stephen Manning mentions that his purpose of writing this book was to be able to convey to his grandchildren the legacy of their wonderful grandmother. While it does a wonderful job at that, I feel it also goes beyond being just a written legacy with its meaningful life lessons.
One clear example is Stephen's vast career experience. Its mentions did take a side track from the couple and their family life, but it was honestly quite enjoyable to be able to read about his various exploits. Another would be the depiction of Stephen and Mary Ann's relationship and personalities. Mary Ann always knew what she wanted and didn't hesitate to communicate, she did her best in taking care of the family and did so with ample joy, like a loving mother as told frequently. Stephen on the other hand, always made sure his family was his first priority. He knew when to concede and where his faults and strengths lay. The thing I enjoyed the most while reading, was the communication the couple had. They encountered bumps sure, but knew to fix what needed to be fixed and tried their best to do so.
As for the writing style, at first, the dialogues felt a bit rigid to me, personally. But that was smoothened out later in the story. It also goes without mention, the unexpected pieces of humor. For example, Mary Ann's replies to Stephen's remarks and the clever ways of recounting certain incidents like Stephen's home made breakfast before Sunday Mass.
At the end, there were some unfortunate and tragic events which made me cry along with the characters. Yet, there were some important lessons to be taken from there too. How seeking help in tragedy helps and how passing of someone shouldn't just end at that, as mentioned by Stephen "When a love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure."
All in all, there is no flashy romance and grand gestures. What there is though, is a loving and heart warming story of a loving couple that is sure to be a great read for many.
There are mentions of religion but nothing that would bother anyone too much. I was able to find a few minor grammar errors here and there, but other than the book seems to be very well edited.
My rating, without doubt is, 4 out of 4.
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