Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
Release date: April 8, 2014
I’ve always been a bit of a dance junkie. I started my ill-fated violin career after seeing a young girl perform before the Nutcracker. I’ve purchased countless dance workout DVDs that promise to make me look like a member of the NYC Ballet. Alas, I was not destined to be a ballerina, but reading this book made me feel a little closer to the profession.
From the author of the widely acclaimed debut novel Seating Arrangements, winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize: a gorgeously written, fiercely compelling glimpse into the passionate, political world of professional ballet and its magnetic hold over two generations.
Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a ballerina whose life has been shaped by her relationship with the world-famous dancer Arslan Ruskov, whom she helps defect from the Soviet Union to the United States. While Arslan’s career takes off in New York, Joan’s slowly declines, ending when she becomes pregnant and decides to marry her longtime admirer, a PhD student named Jacob. As the years pass, Joan settles into her new life in California, teaching dance and watching her son, Harry, become a ballet prodigy himself. But when Harry’s success brings him into close contact with Arslan, explosive secrets are revealed that shatter the delicate balance Joan has struck between her past and present.