Author(s): Maggie Shipstead
From the prize-winning author of Seating Arrangements comes an exquisitely written, fiercely compelling glimpse into the demanding world of professional ballet and its magnetic hold over two generations. Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow, but Joan knows that, onstage and off, she is destined to remain in the shadows. After her relationship with Arslan sours, Joan decides to make a new life for herself. She quits ballet, marries a good man, and settles into the rhythm of Californian life with their son, Harry. But as the years pass, Joan comes to understand that ballet isn't finished with her yet: for there is no mistaking that Harry is a prodigy. Inevitably Joan is soon pulled back into a world she thought she'd left behind and back to Arslan. Gripping and dramatic, Astonish Me is a story about the nature of talent, the choices we must make in search of fulfilment, and how we can never truly escape from the secrets of the past.
Praise for Seating Arrangements: 'Irresistible ... joyously good' DAILY MAIL 'Distinctive and dazzling' Allison Pearson, TELEGRAPH 'A ferociously clever comedy of manners' GUARDIAN 'Beats of startling beauty' NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW 'An outrageously gifted writer' Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls 'A wise, sophisticated and funny novel about family, fidelity, class and crisis' MARIE CLAIRE 'Continually delights' WASHINGTON POST TELEGRAPH 'Books of the Year' - 2012 SUNDAY EXPRESS 'Books of the Year' - 2012
Maggie Shipstead graduated from Harvard in 2005 and earned an M.F.A at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was also a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her debut novel, Seating Arrangements, won the Dylan Thomas Prize and the LA Times Prize for First Fiction. Astonish Me is her second novel.