Requiring ultimate strength, endurance, precision and the willingness to literally give up your life, the life of a ballerina might to some look like a glorious adventure into the world of beauty and fairy tales. We watch these girls glide across the stage, perform amazing leaps, testing their balance as they place the weight of their body onto the toes of their feet.
This wonderfully done book makes the reader understand so well what indeed the life of a ballerina is like. We meet three young girls, Delphine, Lindsay, and Margaux who become fast friends at their esteemed ballet school, the Paris Opera Ballet. It’s a hard life as the girls whose goal is to be a solo dancer, the main ballerina involved them in a world of pain, love, and the reminders that life is more than the dance. Yet, to these girls, it is their life.
We enter into a world of jealousy and the underpinnings of the depth many go to in order to be the best. The physical strain the training puts upon their young bodies, the condition of their feet with blisters constantly forming, and bloody sore s amassing, makes one wonder why anyone would want to do this. The girls constantly eye not only themselves but those who might eventually surpass them. Always vigilant for the next best thing, the girls are encouraged to work harder, stay super slim, and not to grow beyond a certain height.
Delphine, the daughter of a famous Prima Ballerina, knows she has a sword hovering over her as she strives to be just like her mother. Eventually, as a solo ballerina, she walks away from the Paris Opera, and ventures to Russia where she meets a Russian choreographer who enchants her, but fourteen years later she is back in Paris, recognizing what this man really is, a user, one who harbors jealousy for Delphine when she embarks on a choreographer career. Delphine is ready to once again embrace the life she had with her friends. Over the years, the girls would meet up sporadically and the friendship endured with its bumps along the way and the secret that Delphine and Margaux hold is drawing them into a territory where they know they should venture but are afraid.
The author does a fine job of conveying the many intricacies of being in a competitive arena. I did reflect on the similarities I personally experienced with a daughter who was a competitive figure skater. The drive is in these girls, they can’t seem to deny the allure and attraction ballet has for them as if it is written into their souls. The devious men and women who enter their lives seemed only to be focused on one thing, a narcissistic need for them to succeed using the girls, entrapping them at times, while making their needs always foremost.
It was sad reading this story, but a totally believable story of lives ruled by passion and finally perhaps the ability to see beyond what you think you need to be. I know this book has not received glowing reviews, but for me the affinity I felt for the girls probably was enhanced by what we saw and dealt with when my daughter competed.
Ballet looks so exquisitely beautiful, yet it hides a dark secret it can often threatening the life of the people who want nothing else but to be seen.
Thank you to Rachel Kapelke-Dale, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for a copy of this intriguing book.