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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 77/100: Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

Astonish Me - Maggie Shipstead

I mainly read this book because, for some reason, I am drawn to stories about ballet dancers. There are lots of ballet details in the book to satisfy that curiosity of mine, and I really liked that it focused on a member of the "corps" rather than a star performer. Still, I wish the book would have focused MORE on its so-called central character; while she was the thread that held it all together, the book was mainly a jumble of scenes and vignettes from various points-of-view, some which only lasted for one chapter or less, and many of dubious importance to the overall plot. While I don't need a story to be told in a linear fashion, the way this one jumped around frustrated me, often truncating certain story threads right when they were beginning to hold my interest.

Also, I just couldn't get behind the central "love story" in this novel, as the man the book (and Joan's life) seems to revolve around is a total prick. The man she marries is a much, much better catch, but he is unfortunately relegated to the background of her life and the book.

There were moments when this book was really, really good. It's well written with well-defined characters, even if a lot of them are pretty unlikeable. But I just didn't feel the "epicness" of this life story the way I was clearly supposed to, and the "reveal" at the end is obvious in the first chapter. If you don't have an inexplicable ballet fetish like I do, there probably won't be much worthwhile in this book for you.