Color Me Ballet - a Novel of Life and Excellence

Astonish MeAstonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
 Click cover art or title to order your copy from BookPeople in Austin, Texas.  Not in Paris Public Library yet, but surely soon!

See it, Astonish Me!
(Via Hardcover from BookPeople, while listening to Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, which is what my very sneaky mom used to play to put me to sleep. Ok so, Swan Lake would have been more appropriate on the surface, but Sleeping Beauty is, understandably, one of my favorite symphonies and the stuff of dreams, and exactly right for this book, especially because we wouldn't have this book without the author's mom, who shared with her the love of ballet).

In a sea of blue covered books which I can't for the life of me keep straight, this one stands out. (I may have to boycott blue covers this year- book world hear my plea - except Jimmy Carter's book, I'll make an exception for that, thank heaven I have already read John Green).  The cover deserves attention.  Simply deceptively perfect.  Look at it, what do you think you will get?  Ballet. Not overly done, not lost in romance, but determined ballet at the cross roads of life, on a crisp white platter,  with a demanding presence - The teacher? The audience? The star? The reader? Life? You? Me? Astonish me. Astonish me.  Astonish me.

Meet Joan who has a secret which perhaps is why she has never danced as well as she danced tonight.  Joan is good enough to dance in the corp, but is not a star.  Yet, the star chose her to help him defect.  And off we go, through a world that I'd long since forgotten and don't know - ballet,  the barre, tutus, and the Cold War (remember White Knights?), and through relationships, which are always changing in predictable and unpredictable ways. This is a world of a much different kind of performance art than I'm used to,  a world the book penetrates with seeming truth.  But even there,  it's a world where determination and love are what matters, in the end.

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