Astonish Me

Maggie Shipstead. Knopf, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-96290-4
Shipstead’s second novel (after Seating Arrangements), set mostly in California and New York in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, concerns Joan Joyce, a ballerina who abandons the dance world when she becomes pregnant. Early in her professional career, she had helped Arslan Rusakov, a famed Russian ballet dancer, defect to the West while his troupe was performing in Toronto, after which the two had an affair. But Joan marries Jacob, a childhood friend, and moves to suburban Southern California, abandoning her glamorous life of concerts and parties in New York City. Their son, Harry, reveals a gift for and a love of ballet, and his talent is such that eventually he comes in contact with Arslan. Their meeting leads to the creation of a ballet that will unite Arslan, Harry, and Harry’s girlfriend, Chloe, who is also a dancer, but that threatens to leave Jacob estranged from his son. Shipstead’s prose moves fluidly through settings as varied as a ballet rehearsal and a suburban backyard, and her characterizations are full. The story proceeds with a quiet insistence that is matched by the inevitability of its denouement. Agent: Rebecca Gradinger, Fletcher & Co. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 04/08/2014
Show other formats
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-345-80461-7
Open Ebook - 166 pages - 978-0-307-96291-1
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-6561-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-6559-4
Hardcover - 356 pages - 978-0-00-752536-2
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-00-752537-9
Hardcover - 512 pages - 978-1-4712-6761-1
Hardcover - 9 pages - 978-0-00-758144-3
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-1-4104-7594-7
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.