The Ballerinas

A Novel

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Pub Date Dec 07 2021 | Archive Date Dec 21 2021


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.

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.


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ISBN 9781250274236
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Featured Reviews

I have never read this author or if I can recall correctly a story about dancing. BUT I am so very glad I did. This was such a great book. I loved the characters and story line. I will definitely look for more by this author!

Thank you to Netgalley and Publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read this!

Pub Date: 12/21-- def recommend

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A stunning book. I adored it. This tale of three friends, unfolds across their lives in the insular and unique world of professional ballet. And yet rather than being just a glimpse into this unique world, this story somehow captures enduring truths about how women struggle to achieve our dreams and potential. Well drawn characters, a plot that kept me turning pages, and so many thought-provoking points. This is a great book for book clubs, friends who want something meaty to talk about, or even a private retreat where you take time to journal about your own life and consider how things have unfolded and what you want from this point forward. All the stars - highly recommend.

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I love dance novels. I can smell the studio and perfectly picture what these ballerinas look like. The complexities of friendship, secrets, and competitiveness are examined, along with the role that men play in women's lives.

Kindly received an ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale is astounding; I might even say her novel is a tour de force. I was fortunate to have a dear friend in my adult life named Edith Royal. She founded the first ballet company in Orlando, Florida. But at one time, she had danced on the New York stage with Rudolf Nureyev. I know this, not because she told me, but because I saw the photos in her bedroom. She was not a person to draw attention to herself. Long after Edith retired into private life with her husband, I was at church when a beautiful young woman entered (or I could say “floated) down the aisle. Edith saw her, and at the end of the service, she asked the ballerina where she danced. When the young ballerina responded and then asked Edith her name, the ballerina immediately dropped into the most extended and lowest bow. This was a sign of respect. She was honoring Edith, a great ballerina with a remarkable history and reputation. I have always been fascinated by ballerinas with their graceful arms, ability to move on air, and commanding beauty. This book does all of the girls/women/ladies a great honor with the telling of this story. A ballet dancer is a challenging profession; the demands are extraordinary, the abuse they suffer is unfathomable, and they are expected to accept it without complaint. The stories you hear of the ruthlessness of the ballet are not untrue. I’m sure they may be exactly as we read in this story about three best friends who are all competing to be the principal dancer. I loved this book. It is not just about ballerinas; it’s about the injustice that many women are subjected to in society today. For every plié forward sometimes, we take two steps back. Bravo to Ms. Dale! Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC but my review and opinions on my own without bias. #ballerina #theBallerinas #dance #paris #competition #murder #jealousy @rachelkapelkedale @netgalley

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An amazing book of the intricacies of being a ballerina, the complications of friendship and personal goals and the meaning of home. It’s a story of self-discovery and wanting to be really seen for the person we truly are. In the era of the Metoo movement this book also addresses the influence that men can have over our lives as they try to mood us and as we aim to please, losing ourselves in the process. There is so much to discuss in this book. And to add to that I loved the setting in Paris and the behind the scenes of the ballet. I thank Netgalley and Rachel Kapelke-Dale for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. 🩰🩰🩰🩰🩰

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A cross between Centerstage and Black Swan, this book takes you to Paris and into the cutthroat, highly competitive ballet world. Centering around three ballerinas trying to make it to principal dancers and spread out out over 25+ years, timelines flip back and forth to tell their struggles with men and aging, their need to be perfect, their secrets they kept to get ahead, and, most importantly, their story of friendship. As a person who grew up dancing, I was immediately captivated by this story. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for this digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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While I did ballet for 12 years, I wasn't at this level. I do remember some of my classmates going through great lengths to lose and maintain weight. I do remember bandaging my toes, all the lambs' wool, and breaking in a new pair of shoes.

Delphine and her two best friends had been in the same company for years. Delphine had left, after being given a prestigious spot all the dancers covet, and follows a choreographer to St. Petersburg. She finally leaves him and returns home to find that things have changed. In the thirteen years she has been gone her friends have different lives. The are all aging out of the dance program, but Delphine has convinced her boss to let her offer Lindsey the starring role in the ballet she is choreographing. She owes her. Margaux is still there as protective as ever. While Delphine has stayed single, Lindsey is married to a man who adores her and hopes to a father some day to their child. Margaux is married to a woman she loves and desperately wants to have children with, but they are having difficulties.

So many different stories woven into the same narrative, Delphine's story is told in the present and in the past alternating chapters. I love getting to know these women and remembering some of my past as a dancer. I liked getting to know other characters and the effects they had on the lives of Delphine, Margaux and Lindsey.

I was given the opportunity to read this book by NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a beautifully written book that shines a light on the complexities of female friendships. I enjoyed learning more about the world of ballet, and the multiple timelines helped build the suspense.

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Wow oh wow is this a fantastic book! I learned so much about the life of a ballerina and how dedicated to a fault they are in their craft.

A book full of friendship, dance, and complicated relationships sure to keep you up all night reading.

(Check trigger warnings before you read***)

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I was definitely expecting a black swan type read when I first got this, but it's more of a woman's fiction situation, but that doesn't make it any less good! Lots of competition and a major secret that must be kept.

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I loved this book from start to finish. Parts of this remind me of the movies Center Stage and Black Swan where the dance world is so competitive and cutthroat but people are also trying to live their personal lives. The characterization was great but I also like how male dancers were portrayed as well. This book was a good ode to the world of dance.

Highly recommended and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future if it is as good as this one.

Thanks to Netgalley, Rachel Kapelke-Dale and St Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Available: 12/7/21

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This is a wonderful book. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but it evolved into a rich portrait of the life and careers of ballerinas, but more importantly, it was a sneaky vehicle about how women live in constant threat of men. It's about ambition, female friendship and more. Using ballerinas to show how women can be viewed as disposable and not as fully formed people was inspired. I was so moved by Delphine thoughts and actions after the story's climax that I couldn't help but cry a bit. I think this book is going to get a lot of readers' attention.

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Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing a NetGalley ARC of The Ballerinas! This book doesn't publish until December 7th, but I loved reading it and couldn't wait to share it (#NoShelfControl to be found here.)

In one sentence: Secrets run deep at the Paris Opera Ballet, and when former dancer Delphine returns as a choreographer, the lives of her friends Lindsay and Margaux will never be the same.

This book was exactly what I was craving - part story about female friendship, part feminist reflection/discussion about identity, part thriller, part armchair trip to Paris! The action takes place in two timelines - the ballerinas' time at the ballet school in Paris and Delphine's return at age 36. I enjoyed how the timelines wove together - the flashbacks really informed the present timeline. The action unfolds a little slowly at first, but wow is the last third of the book a wild ride!

I think there's a little something for everyone in this book, and I'd recommend it to a wide variety of readers. It's dramatic, but not creepy, and the feminist elements made it more than just a "read it, then forget it" thriller (not that I don't love those too!) 4.5 stars rounded to 5 for Goodreads.

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Wow. Wow. Wow. WOW. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for this ARC. Okay, 5 stars. I feel like I became a better person after reading Rachel Kapelke-Dale's fiction debut The Ballerinas. Fans of Big Little Lies and Little Fires Everywhere will love this book and its pacing. Set in the most prestigious Parisian ballet company we meet a trio of dancers who are best friends. One has returned to Paris after spending 13 years in St. Petersburg and is ready to embrace her past, but is forced to come to terms with the people she loves today. Taut and beautifully written, The Ballerinas explores what it means to grow up, and stop being so small especially in a world dominated by the male gaze.

I grew up dancing and loved the deep dive into the world of professional ballet. The sacrifices made, the cut throat competition... it's all laid bare. Strength meets beauty and grace, but at what cost?

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