From his time working at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg as well as having access to the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Guy Mankowski has written a truly wonderful epistolary novel. It has shades of The Red Shoes and The Black Swan, with its dark thematic intensity of child abuse leading the main protagonist Yelena into self-harming, and ultimately suffering mental health problems. Written in the first person, Yelena recounts her life story to her friend and lover Noah. Considering that the author is male, he has managed to capture a realistic portrayal of a female ballerina as she strives to reach her desired goal of performing Giselle. As with all success there is of course a tinge of sadness, which I will not disclose in case you decide to read this book.
I found this beautifully written novel a joy to read, and within its 245 pages, there are many issues that Reading Groups would find worthy of discussion.