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The Ballerinas

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Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive in a captivating, voice-driven debut novel about a trio of ballerinas who meet as students at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, f Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive in a captivating, voice-driven debut novel about a trio of ballerinas who meet as students at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she's been away...and some secrets can't stay buried forever. Moving between the trio's adolescent years and the present day, The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won't see coming, with magnetic characters you won't soon forget.


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Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive in a captivating, voice-driven debut novel about a trio of ballerinas who meet as students at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, f Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive in a captivating, voice-driven debut novel about a trio of ballerinas who meet as students at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she's been away...and some secrets can't stay buried forever. Moving between the trio's adolescent years and the present day, The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won't see coming, with magnetic characters you won't soon forget.

30 review for The Ballerinas

  1. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale I love the cover of this book and it's one of the reasons that I wanted to read it. The fragile looking but athletic body, knowing what goes into working one's way to the top of the ballet world, the final result, if obtained, can look so appealing and desirable. But the reality is that achieving success requires climbing over countless others, sacrificing emotional, mental, and physical health for something that might evade one no matter how close one comes The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale I love the cover of this book and it's one of the reasons that I wanted to read it. The fragile looking but athletic body, knowing what goes into working one's way to the top of the ballet world, the final result, if obtained, can look so appealing and desirable. But the reality is that achieving success requires climbing over countless others, sacrificing emotional, mental, and physical health for something that might evade one no matter how close one comes to the best of the best. And no matter how hard one may work, how high one may go, nepotism and politics can still overshadow talent and backbreaking work. Delphine, Lindsay, and Margaux came together years ago, Delphine and Margaux when they were eight and Lindsay a few years later. Over the years, as they made the cut while so many other girls fell by the wayside, the girls' friendship endured. At the age of twenty two, Delphine left behind her soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in Russia, as an assistant and lover to an older man. Now Delphine is back in Paris, fourteen years later, as a choreographer. Hopefully this will be the beginning of successful career, out from under the limelight of a man, standing on her own two feet, rather than in the shadow of her former lover. Margaux and Delphine have a secret, something they did to Lindsay over fourteen years ago. Never does Delphine plan to reveal the secret but Margaux feels differently. Can the friendship of this trio, one that Delphine feels doesn't really includes her anymore, survive the truth? What does Delphine owe Lindsay? She's now willing to risk her new career by giving Lindsay a part that Lindsay probably can't handle. Their careers have been build on a cutthroat hill of sand and everything is about to collapse around them. I was hesitant to pick up this book and I was correct in thinking it probably wasn't for me. Nobody is likable in this story other than one old lady who Delphine ignores unless she needs something from her. To have reached the heights they have reached, maybe narcissism is a necessity, but it's not enjoyable to read about selfish Delphine, who only remembers her obligations when she needs to do so for her own benefit. All the men in this story are made out to be misogynist buffoons, charming and suave until their true colors are revealed to the women. The writing is good but the subject matter is not for me. Publication: December 7, 2021 Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Regina

    Imagine a ballerina tightly twirling with an unbound copy of a book pressed to her chest, with so much poise and promise, only to stumble and fling the loose pages all over the stage. She gathers most of them up in random order, does an arabesque, and hands the reshuffled, incomplete story over to you to read. That story is The Ballerinas, Rachel Kapelke-Dale’s debut novel about three friends who meet while studying at the Paris Opera Ballet in the late 1990s. The book takes readers in leaps and Imagine a ballerina tightly twirling with an unbound copy of a book pressed to her chest, with so much poise and promise, only to stumble and fling the loose pages all over the stage. She gathers most of them up in random order, does an arabesque, and hands the reshuffled, incomplete story over to you to read. That story is The Ballerinas, Rachel Kapelke-Dale’s debut novel about three friends who meet while studying at the Paris Opera Ballet in the late 1990s. The book takes readers in leaps and backwards bounds to various years between then and 2019 as one of them, Delphine, tries to atone for a past wrong by choreographing a ballet herself. The world Kapelke-Dale creates is an interesting one that will (obviously) appeal most to people who love ballet. While I do not, I still found the glimpse into the lifestyle of professional ballerinas fascinating. However, the choppy, over-stuffed story just didn’t work for me. Somehow in a mere 304 pages she manages to cram in: mean girl tropes, statutory rape, feminism, cancer (twice), infertility, abortion, adultery, and murder. If the novel were a ballet, it should be called “L’evier de la Cuisine” (“The Kitchen Sink”). When considering how to shelve The Ballerinas, it seems most apt to blandly call it “fiction.” The suspense isn’t that suspenseful, and the mystery isn’t very mysterious. Because the characters go from teenagers to women in their 30s, it’s also not necessarily YA, new adult, contemporary, or women’s fiction. The audiobook does help mature the characters though given the adult voice of the single narrator (Ell Potter). I’m rooting for this author’s growth and will be curious to see what she writes next. Should it be a novel with a linear narrative and a more focused plot, she just might find me in her audience. But I’ll leave any further efforts like The Ballerinas to the ballerinas. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio for the advance review copies. The Ballerinas is now available. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Rachel Kapelke-Dale's novel allows the reader to immerse themselves in the world of ballet, warts and all, and see beyond the glossy perfection and beauty of this exquisite art form. It revolves around the complicated relationships and friendships between the three flawed ballerinas at the heart of this emotionally intense and character driven drama. Delphine, harbouring a secret, leaves her soloist role at the prestigious and exclusive Paris Opera Ballet (POB) to go to St Petersburg. After more Rachel Kapelke-Dale's novel allows the reader to immerse themselves in the world of ballet, warts and all, and see beyond the glossy perfection and beauty of this exquisite art form. It revolves around the complicated relationships and friendships between the three flawed ballerinas at the heart of this emotionally intense and character driven drama. Delphine, harbouring a secret, leaves her soloist role at the prestigious and exclusive Paris Opera Ballet (POB) to go to St Petersburg. After more than a decade later, she returns to POB, this time as a choreographer, only to find time has not stood still and much has changed. Her friends, Margeaux and Lindsay are facing the twilight years of their careers, a harsh truth of a extremely competitive profession, where rising to the status of a prima ballerina are exceedingly slim. It is a story that goes back and forth in time, including where the girls first became friends in childhood as students at the POB, the beginnings of their long roller coaster friendships. The author illustrates her well researched knowledge of ballet with her intricate details and rich descriptions of what it takes to be a ballet dancer through her characters, the commitment, the obsession, the cutthroat culture and nature of competitive rivalries, the challenges, the pressures and the sacrifices required to succeed. There are body issues that emerge, such as beauty, and having to endure horrifying damage to their bodies, like their feet. For women, ballet offers a shorter career than that experienced by male ballet dancers, in fact male dancers have a significantly more positive experience of the profession than the women, although in the book the men have little in the way of redeeming qualities. The narrative moves slowly to reveal Delphine's secrets and the surprising conclusions, underlining how the past can haunt the present. For me, the most fascinating aspects of the novel are what feel like an authentic picture of the realities of being a ballerina, where women have little power and are surrounded by a misogyny that echoes many women's more mainstream experiences in our contemporary world. It is the men who have the influence and power, it is a profession and art form that acts as a beacon to the predatory male. Whilst I enjoyed reading this dark drama of the nature of friendships, with its underlying feeling of menace, the storytelling did at times feel like a choppy experience and not as coherent as it could have been. Nevertheless, I think, like me, many readers will appreciate the opportunity to understand ballet and the ballerinas in more detail and depth. Many thanks to St Martin's Press for an ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    Lackluster first half and clunky second half The Ballerinas focuses on three women: Margaux, Lindsay, and Delphine, three dancers who have grown up together. After an extended absence, Delphine returns to Paris to choreograph a ballet, giving her an opportunity to reconnect with her besties. Can Delphine make amends with Margaux and Lindsay for what happened in the past? The first half of The Ballerinas was rather slow. The second half of The Ballerinas was a mixture of topics that didn’t seem to Lackluster first half and clunky second half The Ballerinas focuses on three women: Margaux, Lindsay, and Delphine, three dancers who have grown up together. After an extended absence, Delphine returns to Paris to choreograph a ballet, giving her an opportunity to reconnect with her besties. Can Delphine make amends with Margaux and Lindsay for what happened in the past? The first half of The Ballerinas was rather slow. The second half of The Ballerinas was a mixture of topics that didn’t seem to blend well together. Some things that didn’t sit well with me: 1) Delphine waxes poetic by stating that all she has in the world is the friendship of Margaux and Lindsay. Um, Delphine, you haven’t seen these women in 13 years! They clearly aren’t that important to you if you never bothered yourself to see them. 2) Stella. I have no idea why this character was even in the book other than to provide some over the type Lifetime Movie style feelings. This character felt quite random. Also, if my mother figure texts me, I would drop everything to answer her, certainly would not blow her off for a date. 3) I am going to scream the next time I read about an “enlightened” female character who thinks that having unprotected relations with someone while not being in a monogamous relationship is a great idea. Barf muffins! The character in question would talk about her body, blah blah blah, and then she exposes it to viruses and infections? Face palm. Overall, a fair effort by the author, although earlier this year, there was a book entitled The Turnout which was also partly about the ballet which is much more entertaining. *Thank you, NetGalley, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased opinion. 2022 Reading Schedule Jan Animal Farm Feb Lord of the Flies Mar The Da Vinci Code Apr Of Mice and Men May Memoirs of a Geisha Jun Little Women Jul The Lovely Bones Aug Charlotte's Web Sep Life of Pi Oct Dracula Nov Gone with the Wind Dec The Secret Garden Connect With Me! Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lisa_of_Troy YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvmS... Facebook: https://facebook.com/LisaofTroy Email: [email protected]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This book is solid, character driven, well researched, realistic approach to the ballerinas’ disciplined, competitive, excruciating lifestyle! I was expecting to read a thriller after seeing the blurb about defining the novel as Black swan meets Luckiest Girl Alive but this is closer to women’s fiction, drama, historical fiction genres. I have a little hard time to get into the story because of the slow paced story telling. But luckily second half the author wrapped up the story and fasten the This book is solid, character driven, well researched, realistic approach to the ballerinas’ disciplined, competitive, excruciating lifestyle! I was expecting to read a thriller after seeing the blurb about defining the novel as Black swan meets Luckiest Girl Alive but this is closer to women’s fiction, drama, historical fiction genres. I have a little hard time to get into the story because of the slow paced story telling. But luckily second half the author wrapped up the story and fasten the pacing to help me get through the entire premise. The conclusion is also better. We’re introduced three ballerina friends Delphine ( narrator of the story), Margaux, Lindsey met at young age when they perform at Paris Opera Ballet. We witness the rivalry,anxiety attacks, high tension, excruciating demands of their profession they have to deal for finding their place at the entertainment industry. They’re both passionate about being rising star, defeating their opponents, feeling the growing pressure on their shoulders and unfortunately nothing they can add in their life to replace with their passions for performance. The big secret the girls keep and tragedy they face will change their entire life. The realistic approach of how things work at the back stage of entertainment industry, how the system work between ballet companies were informative. The second half of the book was more riveting and interesting, the pace picks up, capturing your entire attention. So you shouldn’t skip reading and become patient about progression. It’s truly worth your time and energy. You easily root for characters. It’s a novel about performing arts, passion, friendship, betrayal, secrets, ambitions, dues. I was expecting to read a chilling thriller so I got a little disappointed about the genre but overall it was solid, engaging, well written novel presents us a thought provoking perspective of ballerinas’ lives. So many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catherine (alternativelytitledbooks)

    **Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Rachel Kapelke-Dale for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 12.7!** "When one lifts a ballerina, it is not her weight but her nature that causes the problem."-Maris Liepa This book of ballerinas and friendship had me pirouetting, indeed....but like an inexperienced ballerina, all of this spinning without proper spotting left me more than a bit dizzy! Delphine, Margeaux and Lindsay: You could call them the three Musketeers, the Three Amigo **Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Rachel Kapelke-Dale for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 12.7!** "When one lifts a ballerina, it is not her weight but her nature that causes the problem."-Maris Liepa This book of ballerinas and friendship had me pirouetting, indeed....but like an inexperienced ballerina, all of this spinning without proper spotting left me more than a bit dizzy! Delphine, Margeaux and Lindsay: You could call them the three Musketeers, the Three Amigos---but first and foremost, they are the three cutthroat competitors who will stop at nothing to make their dancing aspirations come true ever since their early dancing days. Delphine knows this best of the three, as she left her hard-earned position as soloist at the Paris Opera Ballet (POB) to become a choreographer, and now has the opportunity to return several years later and choreograph HER piece, HER way. What she brings back with her, however, are secrets tangled in the three's cumulative past that could bring their ambitions crashing down faster than the chandelier at the Opera Populaire. (OF COURSE I'm going to throw in a Phantom reference...🎭) Delphine's former-and-somewhat-still-current crush Jock (aka Jacques) pops up to stir up old emotions, and Delphine is challenged by the director of the POB to cast someone other than Lindsay in the starring role. Delphine is hesitant to do this, though, since she feels she OWES it to Lindsay...but why? Can these friendships stand not only the test of time, but the trials life has handed each woman during their time apart...and will Delphine's triumphant return as choreographer extraordinaire lift ALL of the women up...or will a series of unexpected turns leave these three women fighting one another and fighting for their own survival? The Ballerinas is in many ways being marketed as a thriller, in the vein of Black Swan, where two battling prima donnas will stop at nothing to be the star of Swan Lake. However, this story has very little in common with that film, other than ballet itself and some discussion of career aspirations throughout. This is NOT a thriller. The only 'thrilling' event occurs at about 90% (yes, really) so if you're looking for the mind-bending twists and 'did that just happen' thrills and chills of that film and its crazy protagonist, you won't find that here. This is at best a domestic drama, but the thrilling event in question seemed to be tossed in just to break up the narrative a bit. So what IS The Ballerinas, you might ask? A feminist treatise of sorts, an exploration of the 'dark' side of ambition in the ballet world, and above all else, a case study on what happens when three toxic women attempt to keep a friendship alive without ACTUALLY being there for one another. Kapelke-Dale had a clear message in mind with this one, and frankly, the narrative turns from the perspectives of the three women to the men in their lives just to demonstrate how terrible they are as people. There are touches of #MeToo type sensibilities thrown in here, implications that a man has the power to break a woman's career with one simple action, and discussions of alcohol abuse and mommy issues to round out the plethora of problems. All of this might have come together as cohesive character building if it had been presented in a different sense, but on top of all of these ideas, this narrative bounces around like a pogo stick, from the past to the present and back again. I always struggle with timelines like this, especially if we are thrown back in time 8 years, then 7 years and 11 months, then 7 years and 2 months, etc. At the end of the day, there was far too much content here to feel cohesive and I felt so frustrated with some of these structural issues that the message got a bit too muddled for me. Kapelke-Dale also reminded the reader EVERY time someone was speaking French, or English, or Russian and made a huge point of it. Perhaps this is due to the fact that she is actually living as an American in France now, but honestly, I don't think any instance of this made a difference to the narrative. America was also painted as a bit glamorous at times (with its 'fancy' Bobbi Brown and CoverGirl makeup) and I didn't really get that either, since France is often painted as the fashion capital of the world. Kapelke-Dale's main theme, about the autonomy (or lack thereof) that women have over their own bodies, is really the focus here, and the sorts of questions she raises could probably have been their own book: "Why is it that trauma is written so easily on women's bodies? It's so readable if you know how to look." As much as I appreciate the exploration of some of these themes, this COULD have been a cohesive read that made me want to dance...but I think I might have to sit this one out. 3.5 stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Etoile. I’ve been on a ballet tangent recently which led me to requesting The Ballerinas. Set at the fictional Paris Opera Ballet, the story follows three dancers from the age of thirteen. I was totally immersed in their fascinating existence. However, as much as the book centers around ballet, at the heart are deep friendships with a feminist flavor. Not a thriller, but a character driven novel with a few mysteries unfolding throughout. With a trio of flawed but likable female leads and narrated b Etoile. I’ve been on a ballet tangent recently which led me to requesting The Ballerinas. Set at the fictional Paris Opera Ballet, the story follows three dancers from the age of thirteen. I was totally immersed in their fascinating existence. However, as much as the book centers around ballet, at the heart are deep friendships with a feminist flavor. Not a thriller, but a character driven novel with a few mysteries unfolding throughout. With a trio of flawed but likable female leads and narrated by French girl Delphine in dual timelines. At present, her relationships with two best friends Margeaux, also French, and American Lindsay, are strained. Much to Delphine’s own doing. The other timeline details their rise from the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet School into acceptance at the company. In addition to the competitive nature underlying their affinity for each other and the secrets they hold. I loved this book and the beautiful cover! I would recommend it to those liking female friendships and characters growing within the circumstances of the plot. Thank you to UK NetGalley, author Rachel Kepelke-Dale, and St. Martin’s Publishing for my electronic ARC. It’s much appreciated!

  8. 4 out of 5

    karen

    IS ME! if you're reading reviews of this book because your interest has been piqued by the publisher's Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive hook, allow me to walk you through the valley of truth on those comps because although this is an excellent debut, those "matches" are misleading and set up false expectations that are bound to disappoint some readers. i myself was seduced by those "if you likes" because i'm a fan of all three, and, extrapolating their core whatness into a logical IS ME! if you're reading reviews of this book because your interest has been piqued by the publisher's Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive hook, allow me to walk you through the valley of truth on those comps because although this is an excellent debut, those "matches" are misleading and set up false expectations that are bound to disappoint some readers. i myself was seduced by those "if you likes" because i'm a fan of all three, and, extrapolating their core whatness into a logical point of intersection (as one does...), i anticipated this would be a psychological suspense thriller about competition taken too far; calculated sabotage, self-destruction, single-minded ambition, and the unladylike underbelly of the ostensibly classy world of ballet. and it's some of that, but it's not a thriller. at all. it's a very deep (swan) dive into the world of women in ballet, far more literary than genre in its treatment of the theme. there are some dark shadows behind the fluffy tutus, but despite the cruelty, sexism, and manipulation, the tone is quiet and ruminative; concerning itself with character growth and sympathies and the complex dynamics of female relationships. (in other words, nothing like the fizzy and frothy Luckiest Girl Alive, which i (lovingly) described as "kind of like if the lifetime channel exploded, causing lifetime confetti to go everywhere.") it's also in no way similar to the increasingly manic presentation of Black Swan. sure, they are both about ballet, but you can't just consider nouns when you're bookmatching. Crime and Punishment, American Psycho, and The Silence of the Lambs are all about murderers, but they don't have much else in common. Black Swan is frenetic in its exploration of the themes of obsession, competition, and the mad quest for perfection, but The Ballerinas is no fever-dream; it's grounded in the real world—leisurely-paced and thoughtful. the megan abbott-match is solid—both this one and Dare Me are intimate looks into insular worlds (cheerleading, ballet), whose facade of female prettiness belies the athleticism and drive required to succeed; challenging the stereotypes of cheerleaders as perky and ditzy, and ballerinas as delicate and dreamy, revealing the fierce badassery at their cores. in both, the pursuit takes place in a bubble of exclusivity that nonetheless acts as a microcosm of the female experience in the larger world (...you start out as perfect and you become something else/You start out as whole and then you break.); invoking themes of control, selfishness, drive, ambition, sacrifice, legacy, power, sex, manipulation, deceptive appearances, taking charge of one's destiny, and living with one's choices. The Ballerinas lacks the ominous tone for which abbott is known—that omnipresent sense of menace simmering, about to explode—and it's ultimately more kind, but the way both authors fixate on female bodies is extremely similar—especially comparing The Ballerinas to abbott's ballet-focused book The Turnout—both authors spend time detailing how ballet breaks the body to achieve the perfection and beauty that dance demands—the strength and suffering required to deliver the illusion of a pretty delicate thing flitting on the stage, compliant and pliable and tossed about like a little pink blossom. and no one knows more about that process than a dancer-turned-choreographer: I'd never actually say it, but the part I love most about being a choreographer is pushing the dancers to their limits. Being the one with power for once. Only dancers really know what it's like to lift, to float, to grind through the infinite combinations of the same positions, day after day, underneath the ticking, appraising eyes of a choreographer or ballet mistress or artistic director. Every time i work, I watch their pink satin feet and I know. Underneath those shoes, the flesh is exposed, has been rubbed down into multilayered wounds. Beneath the glossy pink tights, they ache to the marrow of their bones. Below the crowns and the tutus and the perfection, they're all just quivering messes. And it's all for me. Until, of course, they step onto the stage—becoming my agents, my brushstrokes, my tools. Then it's all for the audience. It's all for you. "Don't they realize," I'd hissed to Margaux during a curtain call after a particularly grisly performance of Swan Lake fifteen years ago, "that we're all covered in the most disgusting sores under our shoes?" She'd plastered her pink grin wide, grabbing my hand as the curtain went up, exposing us once more. "Of course they know," she said between her teeth. "That's why they like to watch." And that was what I liked. To hide the suffering with my own brand of perfection. abbott, in any of her books, goes deeper and darker than The Ballerinas, but this one takes a longer view to consider how aging affects women in these fields of brief viability; the frustration of their overextended bodies failing, the judgment and dismissal they experience in favor of younger dancers, the rage and regret of almost making it, the devotion to a brutal discipline that goes against the most basic biological imperatives: A ballerina is a perfect woman. Thin. Beautiful. Invisibly strong. There are no evolutionary reasons we should look the way we do. If what you want is a good procreator, look anywhere but a ballet company, where you're unlikely to find a period that comes more regularly than one month out of three. What you want is someone round, with wide hips and pendulous breasts; someone ready to take a few months of war or famine in stride and still guarantee the future of the human race. Arms ready to plow a field, knead some bread, comfort a child. Good peasant stock. Yet somehow, delicate and breakable, we have become the height of feminine perfection. all of that to say, if you're not expecting a thriller, you'll be in a better position to appreciate this slightly dark book about the inner lives of women navigating a very specific world that is built upon presentation, performance, where Being presentable when you go outside is a public service. it's ALSO a reminder that you gotta be careful about advertising a reading experience that a book isn't going to deliver, which is why people with RA training (like ME: a lady with extremely strong readers' advisory skills who is DESPERATE FOR WORK IN THAT FIELD PLEASE AND THANK YOU) should be in such high demand that they don't need to beg for work on the internet. but here i am, driven to gaucheness, ready to serve. as an aside (this whole review is basically an aside), ballet has been a hot topic in books this year: Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet, Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life, Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet from Itself, My Daddy Can Fly!,Balanchine's Apprentice: From Hollywood to New York and Back, Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina, Dance Theatre of Harlem: A History, a Movement, a Celebration, The Ballerina Mindset: How to Protect Your Mental Health While Striving for Excellence, Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy, Dance or Die: From Stateless Refugee to International Ballet Star, and of course, megan abbott's The Turnout (which is, oddly enough, not a better match to The Ballerinas than Dare Me, despite the more targeted subject matter because its florid, claustrophobic, erotic, and neo-gothic tone is a whole different vibe.) despite the sudden wealth of ballet-books, they're mostly nonfiction, and naturally, i had a woman come in who was looking for a novel about ballet that was more realistic than sensationalized/romanticized; that wasn't focused on dancers who were emotionally damaged or hyper-sexualized (i.e., she did NOT want The Turnout). although it features flawed characters (like any book worth reading), i mentioned this one to her, even though it was months away from pubbing, and i hope she didn't lose that little scrap of paper because i think she'd really dig this book. ******************************* oh no i sat on this review for too long and now it's pub day and i have FAILED my ONE JOB! i'll write it tomorrow. i am terrible. ******************************* i received a free ARC from macmillan in exchange for an honest review and i will be reading this SOON. come to my blog!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    4.5 stars 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 4.5 stars 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    The Ballerinas is about three dancers who are students at the Paris Opera Ballet School. The trio, Delphine, Lindsay, and Margaux, become best friends, who carry a secret together for a number of years. Well, they aren’t friends now, but they were, and Delphine hopes to mend fences. The novel takes place between the friends’ teen years and the present, and it has a slight Black Swan feel with the competition and dynamics of the dance world. It’s about art and expression, and coming-of-age, but mo The Ballerinas is about three dancers who are students at the Paris Opera Ballet School. The trio, Delphine, Lindsay, and Margaux, become best friends, who carry a secret together for a number of years. Well, they aren’t friends now, but they were, and Delphine hopes to mend fences. The novel takes place between the friends’ teen years and the present, and it has a slight Black Swan feel with the competition and dynamics of the dance world. It’s about art and expression, and coming-of-age, but most of all, I found it to be a story of the complexities of friendship. It has some dark twists and turns and good tension, too. It’s a character-driven story, which I tend to enjoy most. Genre-wise, I think it falls in the dark dramatic suspense category with its tension and twists. I think it’s best to go into it not expecting a psychological thriller, but instead a character-driven story exploring friendship and a darker side of dance competition. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    “Don’t they realize,” I’d hissed to Margeaux during a curtain call after a particularly grisly performance of Swan Lake fifteen years ago, “that we’re all covered in the most disgusting sores under our shoes?” . . . “Of course they know,” she said between her teeth. “That’s why they like to watch.” —from “The Ballerinas” This is a very interesting character-driven book that will appeal to all lovers and survivors of the ballet life. It focuses on three women - main character Delphine, and her two f “Don’t they realize,” I’d hissed to Margeaux during a curtain call after a particularly grisly performance of Swan Lake fifteen years ago, “that we’re all covered in the most disgusting sores under our shoes?” . . . “Of course they know,” she said between her teeth. “That’s why they like to watch.” —from “The Ballerinas” This is a very interesting character-driven book that will appeal to all lovers and survivors of the ballet life. It focuses on three women - main character Delphine, and her two friends Margeaux and Lindsay, who grew up training in the Paris Opera Ballet. This book has a different tone and story than Black Swan, which it’s being compared to, but both that movie and this book do an excellent job analyzing the destruction and damage women in the ballet face in their quest to be dancers. The horrible sores beneath the beauty. This book is also interesting and a bit different from Black Swan because in it we also meet male dancers, and we see how they rarely suffer the same difficult choices and fates as the female ballerinas. I would not classify this as a thriller, particularly, though it is emotionally intense, but more of a character study and a high drama about destructiveness and female relationships. Delphine is a very interesting and complex character. We see her in a series of different timelines - from her teen years as a dancer whose sexuality is awakening (and simultaneously being repressed by her training) to her adult years as a choreographer, reuniting her old friends and lovers to dance in a ballet of her own. I really appreciated the way this book used the ballet as an exaggerated metaphor for the painful things all women face in society as they age - the desire to be beautiful, the limited amount of time allotted to a woman to succeed or be an “ingenue” compared to a man, the complicated and sometimes destructive nature of female friendship and jealousy. I did have a few issues with the book - sometimes the many alternating timelines jumped around too quickly for me, and other times I was frustrated with Delphine’s naïveté. The story felt a little disjointed at times and even though I like alternate timelines, I think this one might have benefited by telling the story a little more in order. I also thought the transition from the events in the middle to the dramatic end was a bit abrupt. Nevertheless, I found this an emotional, compelling, and always interesting read. Rachel Kapelke-Dale has a whole lot of talent, and has painted a truthful (in my experience as a young ballet dancer), interesting and painful tale that is hard to put down, particularly if you love the ballet. Lovers of the ballet and fans of female-driven character studies will really enjoy this. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this author does next as she continues to grow. She’s one to watch. Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for the ARC. 3.75 rounded up!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Into every life a few two-star reads must fall, and here is mine ... I had high hopes after recently reading Megan Abbott's "The Turnout," which was a murky and twisted exposure of the dark side of ballet. When I saw the gorgeous cover and read the blurb that said this book was a mix of Black Swan and Dare Me, with three friends and a secret that ruin everything, I thought it sounded like a thriller right in my wheelhouse. Update: It's not. A). It's not a thriller (unless you count a very stupid, Into every life a few two-star reads must fall, and here is mine ... I had high hopes after recently reading Megan Abbott's "The Turnout," which was a murky and twisted exposure of the dark side of ballet. When I saw the gorgeous cover and read the blurb that said this book was a mix of Black Swan and Dare Me, with three friends and a secret that ruin everything, I thought it sounded like a thriller right in my wheelhouse. Update: It's not. A). It's not a thriller (unless you count a very stupid, needless murder near the end of the book; and B). The three "friends" are awful, and C). The big secret that could ruin everything is a letdown. I felt like two different authors wrote this book. First of all, the three friends, Delphine, Margaux, and Lindsay were awful to each other - catty, whiny, and jealous of each other. I couldn't stand any of them. But the plot seemed like it could go in an interesting direction, and the first half seemed to foreshadow a dark second half, with revenge and past bitterness coming to a head. It was slow going, but I enjoyed the first half. It all fell apart in the second half though, as things seemed to do a complete 180, and it became a "girl power" love-in, where the three friends oddly forget all of their past nastiness and focus on a #metoo revenge tour that just didn't make any sense with the first half of the book. If either one had been the prevailing focus of the book than it might have worked, but the way it played out was confusing and disjointed. And the big secret was mentioned barely in passing and was an eye roll to be honest. Slight Spoiler Alert: Don't get me started on the "I don't like how you treat my friend, so I'll push you out a window" storyline that is seemingly heralded by Kapelke-Dale as being brave and totally excusable. Seriously? In my opinion, that character's actions didn't come close to rising to the level anywhere close to a reader feeling justification with that act. The whole thing horrified and disgusted me, as it was a complete over-exaggeration. Overall, I thought the book could have been so much more and had potential to lend credence to important topics such as body issues in sports/ballet, feminism, sexual assault, etc.; however, the protagonists were too unlikable, and Kapelke-Dale barely scratched the surface of each topic and rushed them to boot, which eliminated the chance of any real connection to any of the topics.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 I have long been fascinated by ballet, gymnastics, ice skating, all those endeavours that take a large commitment, passion, and so much work. I'm in awe of the people who pursue their dreams, overcoming many obstacles. Which is what this book is about. Margaux and Delphine met at the Paris opera ballet when they were very young. Lindsay comes in a little later, but the three are fast friends. Friendship though only goes so far when there are only two slots for a promotion, but three of them. 3.5 I have long been fascinated by ballet, gymnastics, ice skating, all those endeavours that take a large commitment, passion, and so much work. I'm in awe of the people who pursue their dreams, overcoming many obstacles. Which is what this book is about. Margaux and Delphine met at the Paris opera ballet when they were very young. Lindsay comes in a little later, but the three are fast friends. Friendship though only goes so far when there are only two slots for a promotion, but three of them. The training it takes to be a dancer is mind boggling. It's an insular world leaving little time for outside passions. Competition is fierce and many will do whatever it takes to get to the top. The book is divided in alternating chapters, between the past and present. Delphine is back after a many years absence but now as a new choreographer, her two friends are still dancers but now at 36 their time is waning. How they reconnect and what happens after was both surprising and not. There is a big secret in the past that will come out as well as a few secrets in the present that could ruin both the Paris ballet opera as an institution and their revived friendship. It will also impact the relationship of one in a horrifying way. A book about passion for an art, women and friendship and the impact of secrets, choices. ARC from Edelweiss.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    I really wanted to fall in love with this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful and I loved the premise. I was hoping it was more a dark book like Black Swan. There is a dual timeline going back and forth between the present and the past. But, I found that the past was really being told from the present. I was getting confused as to which timeline I was reading whether it was really the past or the present. The Ballerina's is marketed as a thriller and compared to Black Swan. This was not the I really wanted to fall in love with this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful and I loved the premise. I was hoping it was more a dark book like Black Swan. There is a dual timeline going back and forth between the present and the past. But, I found that the past was really being told from the present. I was getting confused as to which timeline I was reading whether it was really the past or the present. The Ballerina's is marketed as a thriller and compared to Black Swan. This was not the case at all. I was expecting to see more twists and dark turns but we saw nothing of this. There were some events that were thrown in to be somewhat shocking but nothing that was to me marketed as a thriller. The feminism and friendship themes in this one fell pretty flat and was disappointed. I also was pretty annoyed with the main characters and her actions/behaviors. Thank you so much to Netgalley and St. Martins' Press for the arc in exchange for an honest review. Overall, 2.5/5 stars. Pub date: 12/7/21 Published to GR: 5/31/21

  15. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    4.5 stars rounded up. The first half of this novel, while beautifully written about the beautiful dance of ballet in the beautiful city of Paris, is slow, only hinting at interesting things to come. The pace picks up significantly in the second half. Delphine entered ballet school when she was eight years old. There, she became lifelong friends with Margaux and Lindsey. The narrative bounces from their years in school together, very slowly and painfully working their way up to the present day, wh 4.5 stars rounded up. The first half of this novel, while beautifully written about the beautiful dance of ballet in the beautiful city of Paris, is slow, only hinting at interesting things to come. The pace picks up significantly in the second half. Delphine entered ballet school when she was eight years old. There, she became lifelong friends with Margaux and Lindsey. The narrative bounces from their years in school together, very slowly and painfully working their way up to the present day, when Delphine returns to the Paris Opera Ballet, where the now-36-year-old wants to turn her career in a new direction as a choreographer. She had left thirteen years earlier for St. Petersburg, partially following a man and for other reasons that are revealed over the course of the story. I couldn’t imagine the life of a ballerina, constantly being judged by every part of your body. We regular women often feel judged about our weight and shape, but nowhere the scrutiny someone in this field would receive. I haven’t been obsessed with dance since high school, but this novel reminded me of how much admiration I have for dancers, although I’m not the slightest bit jealous of a life in the ballet—other dance forms obviously don’t require constant indoctrination from when you’re a little kid. The character arc of this book and the insights into female friendships are the reason I gave it 5 stars. The revelations come slowly and you have to work for them, but I appreciated both the internal conflict of the characters of both wanting to be the greatest and also hating the constant judgment about their bodies and how unless you become a principal, you’re just a faceless body with bloody feet and a hungry stomach in the background. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel, which RELEASES DECEMBER 7.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tammie

    The Ballerinas was an enjoyable book, one that was a solid 4.5 star read. This book won’t be for everyone, it’s what I like to call a “slower, thoughtful read”. While The Ballerinas isn’t action-packed, it is full of scandal, work pressure and definitely a lot of drama. The Ballerinas centers on main characters-Delphine, Lindsay and Margeaux and their quest to become professional ballerinas at the Paris Opera Ballet. Told in alternating timelines, the struggles these women went through was incre The Ballerinas was an enjoyable book, one that was a solid 4.5 star read. This book won’t be for everyone, it’s what I like to call a “slower, thoughtful read”. While The Ballerinas isn’t action-packed, it is full of scandal, work pressure and definitely a lot of drama. The Ballerinas centers on main characters-Delphine, Lindsay and Margeaux and their quest to become professional ballerinas at the Paris Opera Ballet. Told in alternating timelines, the struggles these women went through was incredibly interesting and kept my attention throughout the entire book. I enjoyed the Paris backdrop and the well-developed characters. The Ballerinas is recommended to fans of fiction, ballet and thriller books. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Because that's all ballet is, in the end. Just bodies moving through time and space. The breathtaking cover of this book is perfection. It was the high point of this book experience for me. Inside is a character-driven, feminist tale about three women whose bonds are formed in the Paris Opera Ballet. It was fascinating to get an inside look at the world of a ballerina. To those of us who have not lived that life it is enthralling to find out what is behind those gorgeous images we are treated t Because that's all ballet is, in the end. Just bodies moving through time and space. The breathtaking cover of this book is perfection. It was the high point of this book experience for me. Inside is a character-driven, feminist tale about three women whose bonds are formed in the Paris Opera Ballet. It was fascinating to get an inside look at the world of a ballerina. To those of us who have not lived that life it is enthralling to find out what is behind those gorgeous images we are treated to when watching a performance. Delphine (our narrator for past and present), Margaux, and Lindsay are the three ballerinas. In the midst of the narrative are so many plot threads: loyalty, competition, excellence, body image, marriage, fertility struggles, #Metoo, cancer, and abortion. Ultimately, those who wish to make ballet their life are married to their discipline. If one is already committed in such a way to an art or vocation, it is impossible to truly commit to a marriage relationship with another person. Is that the life they really want? Their choices do not yield the results they seek and it seemed like their expectations were not realistic. A quote from Margaux really jumped out at me: I don't understand how you fail to see that real life is so much more than what we're living. Life can be. . .So Much bigger. So, for me this is a 2.5 rounded up. Thank you to St. Martins Press and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    READ NOW on NetGalley for the next 72 hours! Black Swan meets Dare Me = Hell yeah!!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    The Ballerinas is a story about the complicated elements of female friendships and the lengths one will go to achieve success. This book depicts the harsh reality of the world of ballet, beyond the grace and elegance. Lines are definitely crossed as trust is broken and relationships are fractured all in the name of stardom. Each character is well developed as we travel through various stages of their lives and careers. The plot is sprinkled with surprises and events that were shocking and unexpe The Ballerinas is a story about the complicated elements of female friendships and the lengths one will go to achieve success. This book depicts the harsh reality of the world of ballet, beyond the grace and elegance. Lines are definitely crossed as trust is broken and relationships are fractured all in the name of stardom. Each character is well developed as we travel through various stages of their lives and careers. The plot is sprinkled with surprises and events that were shocking and unexpected. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Well, this rarely ever happens but this one is going to be a DNF for me. I made it to 38% of this one and just can't pick it up again. This one was labeled as a mystery/thriller read but the only mystery I've found so far is how to motivate myself to keep reading. The characters aren't particularly likable and the story hasn't really gone anywhere so this one just isn't my cup of tea but others do seem to enjoy it. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews plea Well, this rarely ever happens but this one is going to be a DNF for me. I made it to 38% of this one and just can't pick it up again. This one was labeled as a mystery/thriller read but the only mystery I've found so far is how to motivate myself to keep reading. The characters aren't particularly likable and the story hasn't really gone anywhere so this one just isn't my cup of tea but others do seem to enjoy it. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  21. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    3.75 en pointe stars I have always loved ballet, so I was drawn to this title. I’ve taken classes for a few years and professional ballerinas make it look so easy when I know it is so difficult! This tale centers on three friends at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Can you truly be friends though in such a competitive atmosphere? This book explores that and really is a character-driven tale. What sacrifices will they make to get ahead? Delphine and Margaux are the original two students and friends, a 3.75 en pointe stars I have always loved ballet, so I was drawn to this title. I’ve taken classes for a few years and professional ballerinas make it look so easy when I know it is so difficult! This tale centers on three friends at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Can you truly be friends though in such a competitive atmosphere? This book explores that and really is a character-driven tale. What sacrifices will they make to get ahead? Delphine and Margaux are the original two students and friends, and Lindsay joins a few years later. The book switches back and forth in time, giving us pieces of the story. There’s foreshadowing of a deep secret that finally comes out. It’s clear that the school promotes the ballerinas that have perfect form and keeps very high standards. The work is grueling and takes its toll on their bodies. The schedule creates an insular world as well. Delphine leaves the ballet company and follows a choreographer to St. Petersburg. This was an interesting angle as these women can’t be top ballerinas forever. I enjoyed seeing one potential path, but it’s hard to excel, even in this female dominated world of ballerinas. There are powerful men on the boards, as choreographers, and artistic managers and they like to keep things just as they are traditionally. Plus, there’s the public image to consider, and many feel it’s best to keep the unsavory things very quiet. As Delphine returns to Paris fourteen years later, she tries to patch up her friendship with Margaux and Lindsay. She is casting for her own ballet and wants to have a spot for Lindsay especially. Romantic relationships can be tricky for these dancers as the training consumes so much of their lives. And how do these women balance a desire for a family when it is hard to take a break from dancing for pregnancy? A thought-provoking tale that gave me a behind-the-scenes view of ballet. I still love to watch ballet, but I think it’s very hard on the ballerinas. This made for an interesting buddy read and I enjoyed discussing different elements with Marilyn and Susan! Thank you to publisher St. Martin's Press for the early copy to read and review. This one is out soon -- December 7, 2021.

  22. 5 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    Well, you can't expect everyone to love every book that they read. And so it was with The Ballerinas. Touted along the lines of Black Swan, it doesn't even get close. While I made every effort to get through the novel, it became a real struggle to plow through. I just could not appreciate following the lives of three elite teen girls into adulthood and what they went through to get to where they are. I mean, these girls were from well to do families and not from the streets, which in my opinion w Well, you can't expect everyone to love every book that they read. And so it was with The Ballerinas. Touted along the lines of Black Swan, it doesn't even get close. While I made every effort to get through the novel, it became a real struggle to plow through. I just could not appreciate following the lives of three elite teen girls into adulthood and what they went through to get to where they are. I mean, these girls were from well to do families and not from the streets, which in my opinion would have made for a better narrative. In any event, it was a DNF for me at 30%. I couldn't move forward when there are so many other books that I could be enjoying instead. One star. I received a digital ARC from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    5 for the cover! 3 for the book.... I enjoy the ballet. I begged my mother for ballet lessons as a child, and because she walks to her own beat, she signed me up for Hula dancing instead. Alas, the plie was not to be for me. Enjoying ballet, I thought I would be enthralled and riveted to the pages of this book. Sadly, it didn't live up to my expectations. It took me a long time to read this as I kept putting it down to do other things. Was this a bad book? NO, I did enjoy it, but it failed to wow 5 for the cover! 3 for the book.... I enjoy the ballet. I begged my mother for ballet lessons as a child, and because she walks to her own beat, she signed me up for Hula dancing instead. Alas, the plie was not to be for me. Enjoying ballet, I thought I would be enthralled and riveted to the pages of this book. Sadly, it didn't live up to my expectations. It took me a long time to read this as I kept putting it down to do other things. Was this a bad book? NO, I did enjoy it, but it failed to wow me as I had hoped. Making the cut. It's hard - nearly impossible. There is the physical and mental toil, not to mention the long hours, dedication and endurance involved. But Delphine, Lindsay and Margaux go through the ranks. They are friends and as friends they do things together and even share a secret or two. When Delphine returns to Palais Garnier Opera House to choregraph and further her career, she must face the fact that things change, and some secrets don't stay buried. This book was a little too slow for me and failed to connect or want to root for any of the characters. Sometimes that works in a book and doesn't affect my enjoyment of it. I think feeling a connection would have worked for me more in this book. But with Delphine - that was never going to happen. Plus, don't get me started on the male characters. What I did like it how she explored friendship, how it grows and changes, how ambition and drive affect people. But there was no wow factor for me. Others are enjoying this book more than I did so please read their reviews and decide for themselves. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: December 7, 2021 Delphine left the Paris Opera Ballet school fourteen years ago to follow a boy, and ended up staying in St. Petersburg for years, trying to start her career as a choreographer. Now that she’s returned to Paris, as choreographer for her former school, she is eager to reunite with Lindsay and Margaux, her former best fr Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: December 7, 2021 Delphine left the Paris Opera Ballet school fourteen years ago to follow a boy, and ended up staying in St. Petersburg for years, trying to start her career as a choreographer. Now that she’s returned to Paris, as choreographer for her former school, she is eager to reunite with Lindsay and Margaux, her former best friends. The three of them were always together, dreaming the same dream of being the star of the Paris Ballet. Now the three of them are adults, and their dreams are quickly disappearing. Delphine is left with a feeling of disappointment, especially when she realizes that her relationship with Margaux has become even more strained as a result of the tragic “accident” that they planned, and kept secret, fourteen years ago. Trying to start over, Delphine needs her friends by her side and she is willing to do anything to reunite them all. “The Ballerinas” is the second novel by Rachel Kapelke-Dale, and it reads like a twisted “Centre Stage” (or “Black Swan”). The first part of the novel is thick with ballet; the moves, the language, the lifestyle, and is focused on the three ballerinas that have dedicated their life to the art. It is heartbreaking and compelling, the young girls’ striving and competing against each other to be the best, all while trying to maintain their positive friendships. There is definitely some realism in the depiction of young, developing female friendships, and it will touch an emotional chord. However, if you are not a fan of ballet, or have never been a ballet dancer in the ballet world, the beginning can be slow moving. The story is told in reverse order, back when Delphine and her friends were students at the POB and when they are adults, reuniting after fourteen years. The sections are clearly marked and easy to follow, and it makes obvious sense why the story is told this way. The characters are actually charming, and it surprised me how much I liked them. As the story went on, I felt a camaraderie of sorts with all three of the lead characters, which is not something I normally feel with female characters who are so very different from myself. More than halfway through the story, the novel’s plot picked up and it became a tense and gripping story, with ballet as the backstory. THIS was more of the novel I expected, and I thoroughly enjoyed the telling. Kapelke-Dale is absolutely a creative and enjoyable storyteller, and this novel will charm and delight most readers. Not everyone will connect with the plot, especially at the beginning, but the growth and maturity of the main characters bring an emotional component to the story that makes it worth reading!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    “It’s like discovering that all the women you thought were crazy were actually normal, that their actions were a logical response to the conditions of their lives, and oh yeah-now you’re one of them. You’re the kind of woman that men call crazy, too.” The Ballerinas is a story of women. This is a book about ballet for sure, but more than that, it’s a story of what it is to be female in a male-dominated world. It’s about the need to be perfect; to adhere to the ideas of perfection or what we shoul “It’s like discovering that all the women you thought were crazy were actually normal, that their actions were a logical response to the conditions of their lives, and oh yeah-now you’re one of them. You’re the kind of woman that men call crazy, too.” The Ballerinas is a story of women. This is a book about ballet for sure, but more than that, it’s a story of what it is to be female in a male-dominated world. It’s about the need to be perfect; to adhere to the ideas of perfection or what we should or should not do with our bodies. More than that, it’s a story of taking your power back. I think it’s important to state that The Ballerinas is not remotely a thriller. There are several reviews where people thought this would be an entirely different book than what it was (I actually went into it thinking the same thing, but loved it more because the story was so much more complex). This is a character-driven story through and through. There’s so much more I want to say about this book, but it just wouldn’t do it justice. I’m honestly pretty sure I highlighted at least 1/4 of the story because a lot of this writing is way too relatable. It hits differently than most novels. I don’t think this book will be for everyone, but it’s going to stay with the ones it belongs with for a long while. The Ballerinas is undoubtedly a 5 star read for me. Thanks so much to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! This was absolutely one of the best books of the year.

  26. 4 out of 5

    MissBecka Gee

    This is character driven for sure and the characters are amazing! I loved them all, but Delphine was the perfect center for this story. Drama, deceit, and did I mention drama? Sooo freaking good!!! I was switching between ebook and audio and I think the audio is the way to go. The narrator is is stellar! Much love to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Macmillan Audio for my DRC's. This is character driven for sure and the characters are amazing! I loved them all, but Delphine was the perfect center for this story. Drama, deceit, and did I mention drama? Sooo freaking good!!! I was switching between ebook and audio and I think the audio is the way to go. The narrator is is stellar! Much love to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Macmillan Audio for my DRC's.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Another favourite book of the year! I loved every moment of this book. I have not been this engrossed in a novel for such a long time. This is a deep character-driven story where you get to go beneath the polished surface of the Paris Opera Ballet and into the lives of three ballerinas. I think if you disregard the Black Swan comparison you’ll enjoy this novel a lot more for what it is, which is a nose dive into what it’s like to be a woman in ballet and societies expectations for women. Delphin Another favourite book of the year! I loved every moment of this book. I have not been this engrossed in a novel for such a long time. This is a deep character-driven story where you get to go beneath the polished surface of the Paris Opera Ballet and into the lives of three ballerinas. I think if you disregard the Black Swan comparison you’ll enjoy this novel a lot more for what it is, which is a nose dive into what it’s like to be a woman in ballet and societies expectations for women. Delphine returns to the Paris Opera Ballet after having been away for fourteen years. She goes back to choreograph a new dance in the hopes of finally making a name for herself. She also has high hopes of reconnecting with her long-time ballet best friends, Margaux and Lindsay. At the same time, Delphine is grappling with the traumatic memories that drove her to leave Paris and flee to Russia. The three friends are now in their mid-thirties, none of them are happy with the success they have achieved thus far, nor the prospect of their impending retirement from dance. However, things are not the same between the friends and secrets threaten to surface. The story alternates between their youth and adulthood. This novel explores the trios complex friendship, their jealousies and darkly competitive nature. These are dynamic characters that I will remember for some time to come! I liked the fact that the author didn’t glorify the problems that come with ballet, she presents a very real and raw account of it. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for my opinions! This was such a treat.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)

    I’m disappointed with how slow this book started because ultimately I ended up really liking it. I just feel that it could have been better paced. The novel is told over two storylines - one starting in the late 1990s with three dancers Delphine, Margaux, and Lindsay as they make their way in the elite Paris Opera Ballet. The second is more present day (2018) and focuses on Delphine as she returns to the POB as a choreographer where Margaux and Lindsay still dance. Delphine is holding on to a se I’m disappointed with how slow this book started because ultimately I ended up really liking it. I just feel that it could have been better paced. The novel is told over two storylines - one starting in the late 1990s with three dancers Delphine, Margaux, and Lindsay as they make their way in the elite Paris Opera Ballet. The second is more present day (2018) and focuses on Delphine as she returns to the POB as a choreographer where Margaux and Lindsay still dance. Delphine is holding on to a secret from their past that is slowly exposed through the other narrative and threatens to destroy her friendships and everything she has worked for. Additionally, more drama with other cast members and colleagues at the school also keep her in a precarious position professionally and personally. I always love a good school setting so this book already had a major leg up in that regard. And what could be better than a super elite school full of perfect humans?! I loved the drama between the dancers at the school, the gossip, and the sordid relationships. I wanted more!! Delphine was a selfish and self centered individual and I enjoyed the “coming of age” arc with her character. However, I had expected more to come out of the ballets Delphine was choreographing and was a little disappointed in how that all played out. I felt like the big secret was drawn out for too long and could’ve been better exposed. Ultimately it felt a little underwhelming. The book takes a darker turn about halfway through and that’s when my interest was really piqued. I appreciate that the author was likely setting the scene and creating the image of these used and abused women, but I think if some of the ending scenes had been previewed much earlier, the pacing of the novel would have been significantly better. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy of this novel.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anissa

    A good story told in two timelines but not the psychological thriller the summary hinted at (or I read into it). More along the genre lines of Women's contemporary fiction, which is perfectly fine. Ballet life, friendship bonds and betrayals between women were very well done. The cover is simply beautiful. Many thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for an Advance Reader's Copy. A good story told in two timelines but not the psychological thriller the summary hinted at (or I read into it). More along the genre lines of Women's contemporary fiction, which is perfectly fine. Ballet life, friendship bonds and betrayals between women were very well done. The cover is simply beautiful. Many thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for an Advance Reader's Copy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Miya

    TW all over. I had some hard times. I was pulled into this because I heard there was a Black Swan vibe. I did like it. Slow burning. Stressful and suspenseful.

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