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May 2014 Book of the Month.
A tale of the nature of talent, of personal achievement, of the shadow of the past and of ballet. The author writes beautifully, having won the world’s largest award for writers under 30, the Dylan Thomas Prize, for her first novel, Seating Arrangements. This is not as clever but it’s a lovely read of two generations of couples obsessed with dance. There is some fascinating detail on creating modern ballet.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
From the prize-winning author of Seating Arrangements comes an exquisitely written, fiercely compelling glimpse into the demanding world of professional ballet and its magnetic hold over two generations. Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow, but Joan knows that, onstage and off, she is destined to remain in the shadows. After her relationship with Arslan sours, Joan decides to make a new life for herself. She quits ballet, marries a good man, and settles into the rhythm of Californian life with their son, Harry. But as the years pass, Joan comes to understand that ballet isn't finished with her yet: for there is no mistaking that Harry is a prodigy. Inevitably Joan is soon pulled back into a world she thought she'd left behind and back to Arslan. Gripping and dramatic, Astonish Me is a story about the nature of talent, the choices we must make in search of fulfilment, and how we can never truly escape from the secrets of the past.
'So graceful, so dazzling, so sure-handed and fearless, that at times I had to remind myself to breathe. Astonish Me is a treasure of small surprises'
'Shipstead is a gifted writer who examines families and relationships in a poignant, insightful way'
'Etonnez-moi, Diaghilev famously challenged Jean Cocteau: 'Astonish me.'
's a fair description of what Maggie Shipstead did to me on nearly every page of this impressive novel. Like its subject, the ballet, this book is intricately choreographed, technically demanding, yet seemingly relaxed, written in a prose of great emotional range and acuity. I will be paying close attention to Shipstead's career from here on in'
'A supple, daring, and vivid portrait of desire and betrayal'
Booklist (starred review)
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Blue Door an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
|Publication date:||8th May 2014|
|Publisher:||Blue Door an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Genres:||Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,|
Maggie Shipstead graduated from Harvard in 2005 and earned an M.F.A at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was also a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her debut novel, Seating Arrangements, won the Dylan Thomas Prize and the LA Times Prize for First Fiction. Astonish Me is her second novel. Author photo © Alisha & Brook PhotographyMore About Maggie Shipstead