#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2021
My day eight #bookvent choice is one which took me quite by surprise. I must admit that I was completely intrigued by the setting and the blurb, but I had never read this author before so, despite having heard very good things, it was a bit of a step into the unknown. So glad I went walkies as I loved this book. For anyone who follows my blog, they know that over the spring and summer I have been following the progress of a wonderful, but large, family of swans, so maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that between this and a (not quite) misspent youth dabbling in amateur dramatics and musical theatre, that this story drew me in so much. My eighth pick is …
Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly
Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.
Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.
But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall . . .
This book really did hit the spot. I may not have been heavily involved in ballet as a child, but I have always admired and respected the talent and power of the best ballet dancers. It’s far harder than they make it look and the way in which they punish their bodies in order to reach the pinnacle of their careers, is astounding. One such pinnacle for the Prima Ballerina is the twin role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, a role which is very much front and centre as the action of Watch Her Fall unfolds. In my original review I described the book as “twisted, intense, mesmerising, … and takes a dark look at the extremes that dancers will go to in order to make it to the top.” That is as fitting a description as I can give you now, but know that it doesn’t begin to cover the complexity of this story, the relationships that shape and manipulate the action, or the very obsessive and determined nature of the protagonists in this ill fated production. What would you do to reach the top of your chosen field? It was certainly an eye opener to see how quickly a ballerina can rise, and fall, and how one twist of fate can rob them of everything they have worked for. The descent into paranoia that frames the narrative and leads readers down a very different path to the one we thought we would follow. Told from three points of view, they story is packed with more turns than a triple fouette. Ultimately a story of morality versus ambition, it is nigh on impossible to work out which will win out. With beautiful imagery, immersive prose that draws you right into the world of ballet and characters who engage whilst all the while they shock and surprise you, it’s a truly stunning piece of writing and an easy red hot read for me.
You can read my review of Watch Her Fall here.
Happy #bookvent reading all