BOOK ✓ Astonish Me Ì Maggie Shipstead

Astonish MeThe 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 Arsla Full immersion into the world of a professional ballet and the dancers their world their hopes and dreams The struggle to be better jump higher despite injuries and bleeding feet to be noticed Yet this story is so much What happens to the dancers when they cannot dance How do they make a new life for themselves Joan is one such dancer who falls in love with another dancer who does not stay Her story and her sons who becomes a ballet prodigy himself Well written with a uiet wisdom this is an enthralling read about families secrets and sacrificeIt is based on some actual well known dancers and it was easy for me to guess who was represented by whom in this novel Loved every minute of this book

Maggie Shipstead Ì Astonish Me BOOK

Destined to remain in the shadowsAfter her relationship with Arslan sours Joan decides to make a new life for herself She uits ballet marries a good man and settles into the rhythm of Californian life with their son Harry But as This book is without a doubt beautifully written I also loooove me a book about the intense world of ballet Shipstead inhabits her characters completely and really builds the world of this novel as her characters live it There is a problem of proportion in this novel It feels 200 pages too short The structure is such that at times you wonder why the abrupt shift from one character's POV to another The big secret that is not really a secret is revealed to the only people who don't know it in a really bizarre way that makes absolutely no sense see 200 pages too short An then the ending is ludicrous It just doesn't make sense And it's a shame because so much about this book is outstanding Elaine and her relationhship with Mr K Joan and her relationship with Jacob how Harry grows into young manhood how Chloe comes into her own I spent ALL NIGHT thinking about these people after I finished the book so I know there is something here I Just wanted so much from this book and for these fascinating characters

READER Astonish Me

PDF ☆ BOOK Astonish Me Í JOHNSCYCLINGDIARY ´ ❴KINDLE❵ ❁ Astonish Me Author Maggie Shipstead – Johns-cycling-diary.co.uk 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 afAstonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star the great Arslan Rusakov defect in A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow but Joan knows that onstage and off she is As the son of a retired dance teacher and the husband of a former dancer and the father of a current dancer I felt the beat of Maggie Shipstead’s new ballet novel even before the curtain roseI’ve been looking forward to it since I read her debut “Seating Arrangements” That button down satire of the Martha’s Vineyard set was the smartest romantic comedy of 2012 Shipstead can be fantastically witty about the anxieties and humiliations of middle age Her take on a sniping corps of cutthroat ballerinas could be another bravura comedySo it takes a few measures to realize that her second novel “Astonish Me” performs a dramatic changement The world of ballet after all is not a particularly funny one Despite their mothers’ cooing little girls in tutus learn early that their hips are too wide their thighs too fat their tolerance for pain too low The genetically blessed ones must worship unrelenting precision In pursuit of the perfect line extension and turnout they sacrifice their own bones “You can’t be weak in the ballet” Shipstead writes “or it’ll crush you”If you live in that brutal beautiful world — or especially if you still long for it — this is a novel you must readSomething of a ballet’s structure is reflected in these pages Though it spans three decades “Astonish Me” is a strikingly svelte book composed of short intense scenes that move back and forth in time and around the world Inspired by the defection of Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1974 Shipstead has created a similarly brilliant Russian dancer named Arslan Rusakov Handsome seductive and narcissistic he begins to transform Western ballet almost as soon as he bolts from his Soviet handlers and earns asylum in the United States His artistic perfection arrives gilded with political triumphalismFor a dance novel to work it’s got to dazzle us with great dance and though Shipstead claims she has no aptitude at the barre she can choreograph arresting scenes of Arslan at work “His techniue is not fusty but pure” she writes “His movements are uick but unhurried impossible in their clarity and difficulty and extraordinary in how they seem to burst from nowhere” She even lets us feel the audience impatient to applaud with “their hands held apart like straining magnets”And she’s just as alluring when she shows the young genius lounging — always shirtless — in his apartment drunk on a nation’s praise trying to divine how to act in this new world of infinite possibilities The clubs the drugs the women — all of it antithetical to staying in peak condition and none of it enough to make up for what he left behind which is everythingBut the novel’s real focus stands off in the wings a young American woman named Joan She’s doomed to be a good dancer good enough to know she’ll never be a great one The first time she sees Arslan in Paris “she realizes that the beauty radiating from him is what she has been chasing all along what she has been trying to wring out of her own inadeuate body” She can’t help telling him “Tu m’étonnes” — You astonish meThe novel opens after Joan’s romance with Arslan has boiled and fizzled away Though she drove his getaway car she’s since been replaced on his stage and in his bed by another defector a prima ballerina so spectacular that Joan can’t even feel jealous Now she might as well give up dance She might as well marry that nice young man from home and have a baby She might as well start learning in other words to live the rest of her life in the gray light after waking from an impossibly vivid dream “It’s like there’s an empty space in the world that was meant for me” she tells a friend “but I can’t get inside I can just bang on the outside”If that sounds like the program for a dreary performance don’t worry There may be little comedy in this novel but Shipstead still has her flawless sense of timing and a sensitive ear for the muffled flutterings of hope and desire Even when Joan moves to California with her nice husband and begins raising their son the scenes still flex with tension Shipstead shows us that most common yet difficult to capture reality not a bad marriage nor an ecstatic one but one in which the partners are silently aware of their asymmetrical desires Can Joan ever really be satisfied living with a mere mortal chatting with pudgy moms over the fence Can a woman — even one used to unnatural bends and poses — train herself to go through the motions of happiness in a wholly natural looking wayThe fractured structure of this novel allows Shipstead a chance to do several disparate things — most of them well From the excitement of Cold War political celebrities to the cruel athleticism of ballet she moves confidently into the West Coast suburbs with their own species of prima donna and their own command performances As the focus continues to shift she’s also particularly astute about the way some children and teens experience artistic devotion that borders on erotic obsessionMany of these highly polished scenes are intensely compelling; even the inevitable “Nutcracker” chapter is superb But what exactly is gained by such frantic leaping across space and time These narrative jumps sometimes feel erratic and random when they should feel purposeful and graceful And a few chapters risk looking too thin like some aggressively dieting dancer who loses all her body fat and then begins shedding muscle Why can’t we have connective tissue between these brief scenes Some of them seem stranded and underdeveloped particularly near the very end when such concision robs the novel of the space it needs to keep grand revelations and family disruptions from sounding melodramaticBut perhaps these complaints come too close to asking for a different kind of book Why can’t “Swan Lake” have tap dancing The truth is I relished this novel and was eager to chase it wherever it wanted to go — from Joan’s admission that she can’t be a great dancer to her nervous realization years later that her son just might be one Shipstead has captured the mercurial flow of artistic genius the way it sanctifies some lives even as it condemns others all of them stretching toward that perfect beauty just out of reachhttpwwwwashingtonpostcomenterta