The Chosen Maiden

Eva Stachniak. Doubleday Canada, $18 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-385-67856-8
Stachniak (Empress of the Night) exquisitely blends fiction with fact in this novel about the remarkable ballet dancers Vaslav and Bronia Nijinsky. Her research began with Bronia’s early memoir, which recounts her life as a young dancer up until 1914, and then delved into diaries, choreographic notes, correspondence, photographs, and scrapbooks. This rich and imaginative tale of Bronia and Vaslav’s eventful lives intersects with a tumultuous period in the 20th century: a time of world wars, the Russian Revolution, and a revolution in the world of dance and art. Giants of the era, including Serge Diaghilev, Pablo Picasso, and Anna Pavlova, all appear. While Vaslav easily rises to fame with his unique and audacious style of dancing, his sister struggles to gain recognition as a dancer and choreographer. The book takes readers into the controversial 1913 premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, in which Vaslav casts Bronia as the Chosen Maiden who dances herself to death, and then follows them both into adversity. Stachniak brilliantly brings the story of Bronia, the lesser-known Nijinsky, to life. She has an excellent command of the period and the dance world, and an ability to draw characters who will enrapture the reader. Agent: Helen Heller, Helen Heller Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 05/15/2017
Release date: 01/01/2017
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