Saturday, June 18, 2016

Astonish Me

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead is a novel mostly about the world of ballet.

The story is inspired by the defection of Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1974. A Russian ballet star named Arslan  Rusakov makes his way to Canada and then the United States with the help of an American ballerina named Joan Joyce.

Joan falls in love with Rusakov, but he marries another Russian defector. When Joan finds herself pregnant and unable to continue dancing, she returns home to marry her childhood friend, Jacob.

As their child, Harry, grows up, he becomes interested in dance, and Joan teaches him everything she knows. When he is 17, Harry is invited to dance with the same company Joan was with years earlier.

Arslan Rusakov has been Harry's ballet idol since he was a young child, and he finally gets to meet him and learn from him in New York.

In between all the ballet, there are a number of intense and interesting love stories.

I would give Astonish Me four stars. I really enjoyed the writing style and some of the lines in the book were great. It kept my interest even though I previously knew nothing about ballet. The only thing I did not like was the way the book jumped around between the 1970's and 1990's. Overall, I would recommend it for a quick summer read.

I hear her first novel, Seating Arrangements, was very good and very funny. I would definitely look that one up.

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