From the time she was a little girl all Joan ever wanted in the
entire world was to be a ballerina. Her young life was spent striving to reach this goal and she succeeded, albeit not as a soloist but in the corps. And to Joan this was good enough because at least she was dancing professionally. Until she met Arslan Rusakov, a Soviet dancer, in the early 1970's. Joan's lifelong love, obsession and future is attached to his very being forevermore. She eventually marries a "nondancer" and has a beautiful son Harry. Mostly, Joan's life becomes rather normal and she finds small ways to be happy or at least content in the real world, until Harry starts to dance. After reading her debut novel, Seating Arrangements, which I adored, Maggie Shipstead brings another world to life for the reader. As I do not dance, have never danced and know absolutely nothing about ballet, this author brought me deep into the hearts and minds of the ballet world. The triumphs and tragedies, the love and hate along with obsession of ones own body and what it is capable of. Astonish Me is a mesmerizing journey into the world of dance and the creativity, brilliance and devastation it can bring as only so very few can ever live up to the standards of being the best in this profession. The connections of love and family and devotion and dedication thread through the entire story with these amazing characters weaving an undeniable costume for the stage of life. Highly recommend this well written novel I could not put down. We can only hope Maggie continues to bring us more! Great summer read!!
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