Review: The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale


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.

Source: NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press Rating: 4/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  What a wonderful train wreck this story turned out to be!  I have long been drawn to stories about dancers and especially ballerinas and this one did not disappoint.  I was in just the right frame of mind for this dark, spiraling story of three friends linked over the years by friendship, secrets, lies, betrayals, and loyalty.  The Ballerinas traces the lives of three friends from their youth to the present when each must deal with the past, face the hard truths of the past and present, and survive the storm they are all embroiled in.  The Ballerinas is not a happy or hopeful story, but a dark and winding tail of three women who have lived lives only a handful can ever truly understand or appreciate.  Though there isn’t much to root for in this book, it was, nevertheless a fascinating dance into the darkness with three women facing some significant demons.  As always, I enjoyed the mixing of the past and the present and how the past has so significantly impacted the present.  The author’s writing style is suitably low-key for the overall tone of the book, and I found I really didn’t want to stop reading this one.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend this one if you’re looking for a sweet, light-hearted read, but if you’re in the mood for dark, angsty, and somewhat sinister then this is the book you are looking for.

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Hardcover

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