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Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend Hardcover – May 7, 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (November 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446516538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446516532
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,599,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I saw Robert Walker interviewed on a Sunday news program immediately following the publication of the now famous THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. His narrative describing the emergence of the novel fascinated me. He spoke as if the characters were somehow inside him crying for their story to be told. I had to read this book. Next thing I knew, BRIDGES made the best sellers list. This was in the early 90's. The book became a common topic of conversation among my friends. In fact, one friend and I spoke of the book a great deal. It is a book to make one think and discuss.
A year or so later, I came across SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND - quite by accident. When I made the connection with THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, I immediately purchased the book, read it, then shared it with my friend with whom I had long discussions about Walker's first novel. Frankly, I liked SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND much better than THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. I remember seeing myself in the main character. This character, Michael Tillman, mesmerized me.
Twelve years later, I was looking for a book on tape to keep me company on a long lonely drive, I bought SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND forgetting that I read the novel 12 years earlier. During the second reading (or listening), I found that I enjoyed the author's writing and his imagery, but didn't find any connection between the main character and me. In fact, I didn't realize that I had read this novel before until I got to the part where Michael Tillman finds Jellie Braden on an Island in India. Reading this book for a second time was a fascinating experience. I continued to enjoy Walker's writing style, but the novel had a much different emotional impact on me. I suspect that my two experiences were the result of the author's crafty skill with the written word.
For those, who read SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND when it first some out, I recommend to read it again. In fact, I think I'll listen to it on my next trip.
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Format: Hardcover
Quite literally yes! I do have a copy in every room. There are certain passges that I love to re-read again. The moment in Beanos and the respectful waitress turning the volume up so an intimate conversation between Michael Tillman and Jahlay can ensue. The Thanksgiving Dinner at The Bradens where you feel you are in the room with the characters witnessing a potential affair develop between them both but, somehow, you feel you are the only one who sees it. There are so many passages that I love about this book that, by their very power, they could be miniature essays in their own right. The fact that they all come together to make an all-round belter of a romantic novel makes the book a classic in my opinion. If Zen and the Art.... Catch 22...The Catcher in the Rye...are books you feel you should have due to popular opinion, then listen to me and buy this as it is in a class of its own in this genre.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I liked the book from the very beginning, reading it in one "shot". It is an excellent love story, very sensitive, with beautiful descriptions of the characters and events. The campus-life descriptions bring many memories, and the love scenarios are touching. The two parallel lives of Jellie Braden are beautifuly described, and Mikel is a real "character" (maybe like the author...?, definitely like his "budy"/"prototype" Robert Kincaid). I liked the flow of events, the jump between present and past, the description of life in a small campus-town, the life in India, and especially the love-related events. I liked the description of the "ever increasing" relationships between the two main souls - Jellie and Mikel, especially the "swans in the pool" scenario and the follow-up....where the "slow waltz" is becoming a real love.
But, I felt that the author went "one bridge too far", with the end of the book. It could have as well been finished one chapter "earlier", after Jellie and Mikel were re-united in India.
I enjoyed reading the book, and definitely rate it as one of the good ones I ever read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read "Bridges of Madison County" several years ago, and again more recently. On merit of that, I went ahead and bought this one. Another excellent tale by Robert James Waller.

If I were asked to categorize Mr. Waller's work, I would find it difficult to do so definitively. Based on the two I've read, they seem to fall loosely into the "romance" genre - with a nice twist: His players are mature, middle-aged adults complete with quirks and imperfections - a nice departure from the standard, tiresome romance format where everybody is too good looking to be believable, and the male protagonist is wealthy to boot. Waller spins a believable tale, with believable characters and settings. That's what it takes to please this reader. I look forward to reading his entire body of work in the near future.

All that said, I have a couple small gripes: In both these tales - blatantly and obviously in "Bridges," and to a lesser extent in this one - Waller seems to fall into the same trap as so many young female authors by casting himself as his protagonist of the same sex. Okay, I guess, but that device is always obvious, and perhaps slightly diminishes a reader's respect for an author who seemingly needs to live vicariously through his/her heroes/heroines. Secondly, one of the really great things about "Bridges" was its real setting. As I read my way into "Slow Waltz," expecting no less, I actually looked for "Cedar Bend" on a map (credit Waller with inventing a location whose name sounds like it should be where it's purported to be; somehow I knew this story was set in Iowa before I'd even read a review). I was vastly disappointed to find out the place was fictional. Maybe just a personal quirk on my part.

All thing considered, go for it.
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