Delphine, Lindsay, and Marqaux were inseparable friends and fellow dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet. Now Delphine is back as a guest choreographer, hoping to make Lindsay the star dancer in her new work about Rasputin and the Tsarina Alexandra. But there are a lot of stumbling blocks to this show’s success, like Delphine’s old beaus Jock and Dmitri, Lindsay’s husband Daniel, and Natalie, the head of the company, who wants to push Delphine in a more feminist and modernist direction. So many secrets! So many betrayals! The Ballerinas is a page-turning story of friendship dynamics with an interesting take on the physical tolls and psychological abuses borne by women dancers. Sometimes the author blurbs seem out of left field, but in this case, the Jessica Knoll comparison and the Andrea Bartz recommendation lead readers in the right direction.— Daniel Goldin
December 2021 Indie Next List
“Female friendship and betrayal set against the intriguing milieu of ballet — where ambition is set against a ticking clock. The Ballerinas is a glittering story with compelling characters and an unexpected yet satisfactory twist.”
— Jann Griffiths, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, CA
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.
"Enthralling...irresistible." ––New York Times
"A standing ovation to this debut." ––E! News
Thirteen 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, Rachel Kapelke-Dale's 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.
About the Author
Rachel Kapelke-Dale is the co-author of GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND (Penguin 2014), a memoir about the significance and nuances of female friendships. The author of Vanity Fair Hollywood's column "Advice from the Stars," Kapelke-Dale spent years in intensive ballet training before receiving a BA from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and a PhD from University College London. She currently lives in Paris.
One of the "Biggest Mysteries and Thrillers for the Rest of 2021" ––Goodreads
"The ways in which women torture their bodies in pursuit of creative dreams make for enthralling fictional drama. This terrain proves irresistible in The Ballerinas, a debut novel set in the hothouse atmosphere of the Paris Opera Ballet academy as three students grow up, compete, forge friendships and embark on a trail of destruction...Kapelke-Dale has thought through the larger picture, and examined how trauma and asymmetries of power derail so many dancers."
––The New York Times
"A standing ovation to this debut."
"This highly readable, dramatic look behind the curtains is an unqualified success."
"A well-crafted thriller for fans of Megan Abbott's."
"Deliciously observed emotional tangles"
"You'll never look at ballet the same."
"Deftly uses the professional dance setting to explore the complexities of female friendships and the lingering impacts of ballet's patriarchal culture as it hurtles toward the bloody conclusion promised on the first pages."
"Engrossing, deft and insightful, I loved THE BALLERINAS—from its provocative opening pages, to its blistering climax, to its exactly right final scenes."
––Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls
"Deftly constructed and crackling with tension, THE BALLERINAS is a stunner of a novel, with electric prose and careful observations on loyalty, ambition, power, and rage within the crucible of intense female friendships. I tore through this unforgettable thriller."
––Andrea Bartz, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Never Here
"Wonderfully atmospheric, THE BALLERINAS is a twirling dream of a story."
––Araminta Hall, author of Our Kind of Cruelty