"Father Thomas Meeker, a young priest serving in a rural diocese, tries to help a hell raising Indian biker named Vidal Stump. Vidal confesses that he is gay, and as the priest realizes that he is also, they fall in love... . The sex is not explicit and the loving relationship is handled... convincingly."
—School Library Journal
"Hard-hitting... . A hugely likeable book... honestly detailed and well-crafted."
"Warren's people are unaffectedly interesting and their concerns are ultimately universal... . Warren's language is rich, her humor is gentle, and this first-person narrative is uncannily convincing."
—West Coast Review of Books
"Like The Front Runner, this work questions the role of sexuality, and the special limitations placed on it... An introspective pilgrimage through Meeker's acceptance of himself as a gay man with a valid vocation."
—Gay & Lesbian Literature
"Warren writes with compassion and warmth... Father Meeker's character is credibly drawn... . Warren has an uncanny ability in probing the male psyche and her evocative descriptions of the Big Sky country are superb."
"Makes the spirits soar... moments so warmly moving they'll bring a tear to the eye."
"Warren is able to address the clash between gay identity and spirituality and the restrictive ness of church dogma and small-town conservatism. Simultaneously, however, she fosters an appreciation for cultural differences and celebrates the diversity of urban and rural gay lifestyles."
—Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage
"Another bestseller from the pen of Patricia Nell Warren... An absorbing book with characters so well drawn that they seem to spring out of the pages."
"One has the sense of a deeply spiritual person... [Warren's] acquaintance with the Church and her Montana background came together in The Fancy Dancer."
"Honestly probes the priest's spiritual and personal anxieties... convincingly illustrates Father Meeker's decision."
"A romance about a young priest tempted by a gay Native American... . Record successes in both hardcover and paperback... May give [The Front Runner] a run for its money."
"An important sensitive contribution... Warren's characters are warm and real... . Their positive impact comes precisely because they are not simply genital machines but human lovers."
As a gay Jewish man, I was intrigued by this book... The love that the priest finds with the title character... is so overwhelming that it reminded me of my own coming out a few years ago. While it is not a celebratory happy ending, the book leaves you with the feeling that the men involved here are on the right track. I have to admit, I'm hoping Ms. Warren revisits these characters and writes a sequel like she did with The Front Runner series."
—Reviewer for Amazon.com
"Having just finished for the third time Fancy Dancer, and with tears in my eyes, I had to write. I've never done this before, but I just had to express my appreciation to you for writing one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever read... . You possess a rare insight and a remarkable frame of mine in these times."
—A. H. Stamford, Connecticut
"I have seldom read anything which so absorbed me, or which held itself together from one reading session to the next... The love story you told was as vital as a man-woman story can be. And the ending, which had every chance of being a black disaster for everyone concerned, held hope... . It is a book I'll remember for a long time."
—Cornelia M. Parkinson
"I'm so moved I must write you this letter right now... Your understanding of the gay experience is astonishing in its verify. I guess part of the reason I was so engrossed in your story was my own recent struggle with my strict religious upbringing... . I am 28 years old, so I identify a lot with Tom Meeker... . As I read the last words of your book, the tears flooded to my eyes... . Thank you for a singularly beautiful literary experience."
"It is literally impossible to put the book down... The message in your book is beautiful. You understand contemporary Church feelings sensitively. I only hope the dream you envision for Tom Meeker becomes reality beyond the pages of fiction. Your book will be in my lectures on the modern novel next semester."
—Brother G. Klewitter, C.S.C.
"I am a World War II veteran who was stationed in London... The Fancy Dancer has almost become a bible for me. You had the courage to speak out for the gays who believe that being people is of primary importance —that truth, honesty, a well-lived life are what is important."
"It is 4:30 a.m. and I have just put down... this new masterpiece. I am compelled to express my astonishment at how a young woman such as yourself can so accurately depict the thought patterns and lifestyles of male homosexuality... You have a talent for this, which has not been discovered in any other contemporary writer. I am a 20-year-old college student still trying to shake off the last bit of guilt in admitting that I am gay."
—R.R., Baylor University
"I felt as though the book was your very personal gift to me... You seized my heart and mind, taking me on an exhilarating journey."
"I was most impressed. The characters are well-defined, and the action moves rapidly through an incredible narrative of self-discovery."
"I am a gay Catholic priest... . I have, in my relationship, been through many of the agonies and joys of Fr. Tom in his discovery of his sexuality and his attempts to integrate that into a viable and fruitful ministry... . I wish you God's blessing in your ministry to the gay community through the printed word."
—Fr. B. Collins
"Here's an atheist who enjoyed The Fancy Dancer immensely... . One of the most difficult aspects of being gay for many people is justifying your orientation with God... . The Fancy Dancer handled that problem quite well, I think, which is why I believe the book to be truly valuable. You have an innate good quality... to communicate not only a stimulating story, but also to show a great deal of wisdom in your writing."
"Beautifully written... I could identify with the priest, having spent four years in the monastery myself."
"I started a new job a month or so ago - working as a contractor for a large government agency downtown. I was pleased to discover someone had established a "Book Swap" in our floor's lunchroom - a bookcase filled with books, which you could take for free... . One day, what should be sitting face up on one of the shelves, begging someone to take it, but Patricia Nell Warren's The Fancy Dancer. My heart racing, I looked around to see if anyone was watching, grabbed the book and quickly raced back to my desk to hide the book in my briefcase. This paranoid behavior deserves a bit of explanation. When I was twelve, my libido flicked on as if someone had hit a switch - at which point I found out to my chagrin that those creeps who called me "faggot" in gym class were right. From the attitudes of my peers, and from what I had gathered from the world around me, I had every reason to expect that being gay meant lifelong harassment, taunting and ostracism, and (worse) - no one would like me any more... One of my more exciting adventures was checking out The Fancy Dancer from the library when I was fourteen... Reading that book was quite an experience - it really is a gay romance novel and affected me the same way those Harlequins do the female adolescent... . Well, here it is, ten years later, and I discover a piece of my history in the vending machine room. I've been out of the closet for three years, actively involved in the gay community, and open with all my friends and loved ones. My parents have been wonderful - my only sibling is also gay and their open- mindedness has been stretched to the limits, but they've handled it well. And, goddammit, I've found out that "Gay Pride" means being proud of accepting yourself and handling your life in a culture that disapproves of what you are."
—Eric Peterson in Philadelphia City Paper
"A very readable, sincere novel with authentic feelings and a believable happy ending. The title refers to a type of tribal dance in which the priest's lover, a Blackfoot Indian, formerly excelled; it's used to symbolically support the thematic message about the power, freedom and sacredness of embracing your true identity."
—Soquel High School Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Bibliography