16 3 / 2014
Here’s a very kind review of Astonish Me from O Mag. The book comes out on April 8!
April 2014 Book Review: ‘Astonish Me’
BALLET AND LOVE TAKE CENTER STAGE IN A DAZZLING NEW NOVEL
JANUARY 1975, TORONTO. Joan Joyce, a lackluster member of the corps de ballet, sits in the getawaycar, one hand poised to turn the key in the ignition, the other ready to switch on the headlights. After a fling in Paris with the world’s most famous ballet dancer, Arslan Rusakov, she has been chosen—by Arslan himself—to help him defect from the Soviet Union. He exits through the stage door, bolts for the car in full costume, and climbs into the back- seat, and Joan smuggles him across the border, to New York City. Arslan epitomizes the physicality and star power Joan will never have, which makes her desire for him all the more potent, and poignant. Their ensuing relationship changes her “sensation of being alive,” but doesn’t alter her career trajectory.
Maggie Shipstead’s thrilling second book, Astonish Me (Knopf), is an homage to, and exposé of, the exhilarating, punishing world of ballet; it’s also a searing rumination on insecurity, secrecy, and friendship. The story line takes its inspiration from a real-life pas de deux: Mikhail Baryshnikov’s passionate affair with American socialite Christina Berlin.
28 6 / 2013
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14 6 / 2013