Cover Image: The Ballerinas

The Ballerinas

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I’ve been meaning to read this book for months, but I think reading it now is even more impactful given recent Supreme Court news and rulings.

This book is NOT a thriller. If you go into it thinking that, you will be disappointed.  The ballerinas is a character-driven Women’s fiction and sends an important message regarding what’s expected of women and what some men get away when it comes to using/abusing women.

It was a slow build introducing characters Delphine, Lindsay, and Margaux, three ballerinas who grow up in dance school together and basically become each other’s family.  Delphine and Margaux are holding in a secret about what was done to Lindsay in the past but will they continue to let that secret haunt them?  Lindsay, meanwhile, is still trying to fight her way to the top and Delphine wants to help get her there.  All three women are dealing with past and present struggles and are trying to hold their friendship together.

The second half of the book gained more traction for me but the only thing I didn’t like was the timeline.  I usually like dual timelines but this one felt a little too all over the place for me.  I think I enjoyed reading this book more now vs a few month’s ago given what’s going on in the world.

Many thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The Ballerinas is a story about three girls - Delphine, Margaux and Lindsay - who meet while studying at the Paris Opera Ballet (POB) in the 1990s and become close friends. The book then jumps back and forth in time until 2018 when Delphine returns from Russia to choreograph a ballet as well as attempting to make up to her friends for a wrong she committed many years ago.

Although I found it slow-moving, the book is good. Since I'm not a big fan of ballet a lot of it was wasted on me but the story did highlight the darker parts of being a success in the world of ballet and I think I learned the difference in the levels of ballet dancers. I found the constant time shifts to be disconcerting and had to occasionally double-check to see what year we were in. I didn't especially like any of the characters which may be part of the reason the book seemed to drag on and on. There are many issues covered in the book - alcoholism, sexual abuse, abortion, to name a few - maybe too many for such a short book. The second 40% or so was definitely more to my liking and the writing throughout the whole book was very good but I just don't think I'm the right reader for the story.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press via Netgalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
A book about ballerinas in France? YES.

I loved the ballet talk, the behind the scenes and breakdown of company life, and the timeline was done SO WELL. I also really loved all three of our leading ladies.
Was this review helpful?
Rep: LGBTQIA+ (side character)

I was drawn to this book because of my own love for dance but unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make me love this story.

The Pros: What Worked For Me

The way the author talks about dance and choreography resonated with me. She captured it so well, and it lined up with my own experiences.
All of the characters are very unique, making it easy to distinguish between them.
The story goes back and forth in time, which is a style I quite like.

The Cons: What I Didn’t Like

None of the characters are likable. I struggled to connect with any of them or feel any empathy towards them.
The secret was easy to figure out, and it took ages for it to be revealed.
This is a very slow-paced book and my interest waned over time.
The men in this novel are very one-dimensional; they are all just misogynists. The lack of depth was disappointing.

Maybe this novel just wasn’t the right fit for me. I was hoping for something intriguing but instead, this was a clunky book about narcissistic characters and dance. I’m going to be giving this 2/5 stars and leave it at that.
Was this review helpful?
The ballerinas
By Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Thank you to NetGalley & St’ Martins Press for the copy of this book for my honest review. 

This story is about 3 friends and ballerinas and how they deal with the life of a ballerina. Delphine left the opera house in Paris and escaped to St Petersburg to live with her boyfriend and learn the steps in becoming a choreographer.  18 years later she returns to the opera house as a choreographer for the upcoming ballet and brings her secrets with her.  She hoped to pick up where she left off with her friends, but it is not as easy as she had hoped for.  

I had a hard time engaging in this story.  For me, it did not hook me until well after half way through.
Was this review helpful?
After leaving the Paris Ballet fourteen years ago, Delphine returns triumphant, but as a choreographer, a dancer no longer. Her reunion with her two former best friends, however, is not so triumphant. Turns out that Delphine’s radio silence all the years she spent in St. Petersburg was not the foundation for lasting relationships. But she’s determined to make the most of being back home, finding herself slipping into old routines and old habits with little effort, for better or worse – mostly worse. With every return comes a million memories, and these memories hold a lot of pain and secrets for Delphine, who only finds herself drawn more and more into the sinister side of the ballet. 

As a former dancer, I had to pick this one up. And how could I not? Just look at that gorgeous cover. And a story about dancers with a bit of mystery on the side? Awesome. And the intrigue was there, if minor, and only lightly mentioned every five or so chapters, until an utter ramp up leads to a crazy conclusion with little to no real world repercussions.

As a former dancer, I found the constant detailing of dance steps familiar and superfluous; I can only wonder what a non-dancer thinks when they read passage after passage of choreographic language, if it’s a beautiful enigma or a frustrating and unnecessary list.

Being a former dancer has nothing to do with who I am as a reader, and this reader didn’t find a lot of substance within these pages. There’s an exploration of friendship and what being a real friend means, yes; there’s the above-mentioned mystery and intrigue that is more confusing and frustrating than intriguing, sure; there’s a bizarre feminist lens that is warped and twisted so that the definition of feminism becomes completely insignifcant, mainly. Did I keep reading? Yes. Was it out of anything but pure spite? Hard to tell by the end of my experience. 

But as a former dancer, I appreciated the critique on how dancers are treated and viewed – though I could have done without the shiny veneer of “it’s all worth it in the end” plastered on top.

Trigger warning: death of a parent, cancer, taping sex without consent, abortion, miscarriage.
Was this review helpful?
The Ballerinas is a beautiful coming of age story full of french culture, ballerinas, friendship, love and loss. The story follows a group of young girls from their childhood dreaming of being ballerinas to adulthood where some have achieved those dreams others have changed their ideas and some are dealing with the consequences of those dreams. I thought from the summary there would be a little more drama and thrilling aspect to the book, you really have to read until the end that finishes with a bang to get the thrill. However I enjoyed the ride and thought it was fun to be submerged in their world.
Was this review helpful?
The Ballerinas is an excellent, dark YA novel filled with friendship and secrets set in the competitive world of dance. Readers of Tiny Pretty Things or Dare Me will be thrilled to check out The Ballerinas.
Was this review helpful?
Definitely not for me. I DNFed halfway through because I just could not for the life of me get into this. I tried, but it wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?
This is a beautifully written book that shines a light on the depth of female friendships. I enjoyed learning more about the world of ballet.  There are multiple timelines to follow.  Thank you Net Galley for the ARC
Was this review helpful?
I liked this story, I did. I liked the peak into the world behind ballets. The girls were brutal, the expectation for perfection was almost overwhelming as the girls pushed themselves harder and harder to achieve and be great. The feel of competition, first love and crushing disapointment jumped off each page.

But I didn't think this was a mystery, not really. It's character driven, so you spend quite a bit of time getting to know the MC. She's just come back home, meeting up with her best friends again and planning a show, not as a dancer. I didn't find a lot of mystery in this.

I also think this story tried to tackle a little too much. Once we reached one twist - shocking and awful, I thought the story was pretty well complete. Well told, rage inducing and something I could imagine easily happening in this world. However, the story kept going and we were introduced to another twist and another shock. I did enjoy the story, found it interesting, I just didn't love it.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
Was this review helpful?
First off, the cover of “The Ballerinas” by Rachel Kapelke-Dale is stunning and drew me in instantly! As a former ballet dancer I was immediately intrigued by the story. This is definitely a slow burn at the beginning but I do enjoy books that switch between time periods. I enjoyed the female relationships and characters however, it did take me a bit to get into a the plot. 

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martins Press for the digital arc in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book and the vibe of Black Swan, insight into Ballerinas. I enjoyed the relationships between the characters and this book was so easy to binge read.
Was this review helpful?
This book had such wonderful storytelling format. I am a huge fan of when books jump between two different time periods, especially when it is done so well. As well as this, the writing felt authentic, like looking into this woman's life, rather than like a story.

As someone who grew up in the world of ballet, this book really portrayed the competitive and sometimes harsh nature of the industry, even between friends. I would definitely look up trigger warnings before reading!!
Was this review helpful?
I thought that this book would be entertaining.  Delphine gave up dance 14 years before but has always yearned for and missed it.  She returns too take charge of a whole program hoping it will renew her career and start the 2nd phase.  I found the characters to be shallow and no one jumped out at you.  There is a plot twist a hiccup in the scope of things.
Was this review helpful?
I love browsing the endless best books of the year lists and this beauty came from Sarah’s Bookshelves this month. This has big potential to be a selection for our 2022 MomAdvice Book Club year- it is that beautiful and thought-provoking. 

It is no secret that the field of dance is cutthroat and Kapelke-Dal knows all about that business after spending years in intensive ballet training. It is, perhaps, why the dance scenes are so spectacular and haunting. At moments, it felt like a memoir about the author’s own dance career.

Following the two timelines, we get to see the beginnings of that hunger for our three young ballerinas fighting for position in the ballet and then we get to see their later years as they find themselves and their own voices. What haunts both timelines though is an incident that changed the course of one of their careers and propelled the other two forward. 

This gave me big book club feelings for many, many reasons. The commentary on how women fight the aging process, the contrast between expectations between men and women, and what it means to be a success in this world were giant gut punches. 

This book is for readers that don’t mind if the story is slower to build, but delivers on strong well-developed characters.  If Black Swan was a favorite, read this immediately.
Was this review helpful?
This book is solid, character driven, well researched, realistic approach to the ballerinas’ disciplined, competitive, excruciating lifestyle!
Was this review helpful?
I have a weird thing for ballerina stories (both books and movies), which is funny as I have no desire to actually do ballet lol. This one was waaaay darker than I expected and I really enjoyed that! It showed a different side to the life of a ballerina. The pressures, the competition, the decisions made to prevent other people from doing something/getting what they want, and being considered “old” when you’re still young!

I think this book really focuses on female relationships and how important they are. It also highlights finding a path and figuring out your own growth and development.

I would read this one again as I am sure there are many little things I would pick up on with each read!!! If you’re in the mood for a dark ballet story give this one a try!!!!

Thank you to St Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Rachel Kapelke-Dale for a gifted copy in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to netgalley and the publishers of this book for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I was really excited about this book and finished it very quickly! I really enjoyed how the book was a mixture of mystery while also exploring the intricacies of female friendship through these characters. I feel often character development gets the short end of the stick in thrillers/mysteries, however did not find that to be the case in this book. 

I would recommend this book to a friend.
Was this review helpful?
A ruthless and unforgiving world for sure!
Great story!!

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 Léger 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 thirty-six 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 a magnetic cast of characters you won't soon forget.
Was this review helpful?