This novel has all the grand sweep and drama that makes the Morland Family Saga rewarding reading. It starts off in May 1919 as Britain is coming off its prolonged euphoria from having triumphed over Germany the previous November. Jessie is at Morland Place with her young son, eagerly awaiting the return of her beloved husband "Bertie" from occupation duty in Germany, where he holds a command. The Morland Family, like many other families in Britain, is beginning to come fully to terms with the impact the war has had on them and the country at large. Times are tough. The promises the government made to returning veterans to provide them with a good home and steady employment largely ring hollow. Strikes and shortages become the norm.
For anyone who has read the preceding novels in the Morland Family Saga, several of the main characters from them return to center stage. Teddy Morland, the head of Morland Place who has always put a high premium on the importance of family, tries to resume at first a prewar way of life. But he comes to realize that he must adjust to the times. His daughter Polly, still grieving over a German POW with whom she had unexpectedly fallen in love while he was on temporary work detail on a farm near Morland Place, tries to get on with her life. (The POW was later repatriated to Germany, where, Polly learned, he had died under somewhat mysterious circumstances.) She is restless, energetic as ever, impatient as she approaches 21 to live life to the full. This is characteristic of many of the well-to-do of British society who had been scarred by the war. Many of them indulged in endless rounds of parties, drinking, carousing, and dancing. Anything to forget the horrors of the trenches.
Emma Weston, a distant relation of the Morlands, who had served in France near the Front with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), returns home feeling adrift and unsure how to fit in among people who were not traumatized by the war as she was. So, she loses herself in parties and dancing and proves especially adept at the fox-trot and tango. Emma becomes a part of that generation in the 1920s who deliberately distanced themselves from prewar certitudes through having a good time amid the rhythms of jazz and ragtime.
Eventually, after extended service in Germany, Bertie returns home, where he and Jessie are at last free to assume a new life together as man and wife.
There is so much to "THE DANCING YEARS" that will delight and enchant any longtime fan of the Morlands. And for the new reader in search of a novel that will transport him/her into a world slowly inching forward from 1919 to 1925, he/she will be brought into close contact with the lives of a variety of fascinating people, rich and poor alike.