Daffodil Dancing is a novel about the impact of social phobia on friends and family members, in addition to its victim. The story takes place over twenty years and begins with Terri coming home to Toronto, after spending several years working in England. She finds her new job, in her family’s store franchising operation, less than satisfactory and her best friend, Alison, avoiding her. Alison has developed social anxiety during the years that Terri has been away. She has had to drop out of college and has become virtually housebound. Terri has to learn not to take this odd behavior personally. The two manage to put the misunderstandings aside and buy a store franchise for themselves. Within a few years, their shopping mall location has become the chain’s flagship store and working consistently at winning control of her problem, Alison meets new challenges and finds success in her career and the confidence to marry her boyfriend, Ian.
When Terri’s husband gets called back to England, the two women must both move on to other things. Alison eventually discovers cognitive behavioural therapy, becomes confident in her ability to prevent the genetic disorder from impacting negatively on the children she may have and, after coming to the realization that her husband’s niece regards her as a mentor, embarks on motherhood and on a new career from which the title of the book is derived.
People often think that social phobia is only shyness and that its victims are manipulating family members and friends. Alison’s story, however, is one of courage and tenacity and her mother is the insightful force behind Terri’s and Ian’s determination not to disappear from their lives. The story is so well told and the characters so well developed that you find yourself imagining how it would be if your own fears took over your life and you relate to Alison as she moves forward with her life one step at a time. You feel yourself rooting for her on the day when she forces herself to get out of bed and pedal her exercise bike to get ‘the endorphins to do their stuff’. You are with her as she forces herself to converse with people in the park where she walks her dogs and you cheer for her on the day she goes to the corner store in her new neighborhood.