The Ballet Lover exposes the beauty and cruelty of ballet, the performances, the back stage moments, and the personal dramas of the famous ballet dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Natalia Makarova as seen through the eyes of an American female journalist.
Paris, 1970s: the orchestra plays the first ominous note of Swan Lake. In the audience sits Geneva, an American journalist and ballet lover, waiting for the heart-stopping beauty and seduction of the romantic duet to start, but instead she witnesses Rudolf Nureyev failing to catch his Russian partner Natalia Makarova, allowing her to fall with a crash upon the stage.
Geneva interprets the fall as an act of cruelty, a man with all the fame and power in the world brutally letting fall his delicate, wraith-like artistic partner. When other critics defend Nureyev and accuse Makarova of causing her own tumble, Geneva vows revenge on the page, creating havoc in her own career and discovering surprising parallels between herself and the fallen ballerina.
The Ballet Lover is a refined, mesmerizing, fictional account of two of the most celebrated dancers in the dance world, how one compromised the other, and how the drama on the stage often mirrors those played out in real life.
Geneva’s dedication to her writing is great, her focus is writing about dancing. She holds fast to her opinion even when others disagree and I think that the ending of the story was perfect for her considering the bond she has with her Aunt. Baer mixes in tidbits of historical ballet facts with a novella that focuses on two ballet dancers in particular, Nureyev and Makarova.
The MC is the journalist who captures the feeling of the dancers on stage, watching the progress of the two dancers throughout their careers. At the beginning of each chapter Baer gives us a snippet of a performance and though it doesn’t seem to add to the story itself as far as plot I feel it helps set the stage each time and those little snippets were my favorite part!
This is a novella and not a fully fleshed out book, so that expectation could be kept in mind before diving in. It can easily be read in one or two sittings and if you enjoy ballet history I would recommend this.