The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale, 3.5 Stars

Why is that whenever I think of stories of Ballerina I think of Black Swan? Ballerinas are supposed to be graceful and beautiful. And almost every single little girl out there dreams of being a ballerina. I totally did! Although, in restrospect, I think I was in it for the tutu. Yet somehow, all these years later, all my brain can think of is the ugly underbelly of dance. Why is that?

Of course, I had to request The Ballerinas when I saw it available on Netgalley and while this one is slightly less Black Swan gloom and doom, it’s still not a positive story of ballerinas. Not that that is at all what I was looking for. Really, the only books I’ve read hoping for a positive tale of dance were Angelina Ballerina books back in elementary school. Like I said, I’m much more interested in the other side of things.

From the Publisher:

Thirteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she’s been away…and some secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Moving between the trio’s adolescent years and the present day, Rachel Kapelke-Dale’s The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won’t see coming, with magnetic characters you won’t soon forget.

My Review:

Delphine’s mother was a prima ballerina. And that’s hard to live up to. Still, she tried. And she was mostly successful except for that may 5% more she needed to be her mom. She needed 5% more grace, 5% more beauty, 5% more talent. She seems to just fall short. Still, she’s one of the top ballerinas in school growing up. And she has two friends, Lindsay and Margaux who she shares everything with.

Fast forward to present day and she’s been hired to choreograph the newest show at her former opera house. And all her friends are there. Should be a good time, right? Except there are a lot of things that we, the reader, find out as we flip back and forth from present day to the past. And while there are good times, there are also times when best friends are secretly enemy rivals, boyfriends are deceitful and intentions are anything but pure.

The Ballerinas is a satisfying tale of female friendship, competition and sometimes revenge. It’s also a cautionary tale to always be careful who you trust, especially when all your friends and lovers, are out for what they want.

Special thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out December 7, 2021. Pre-order your copy:


3 thoughts on “The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale, 3.5 Stars

Add yours

  1. I’m curious why you gave this book 3.5 stars. Your review seemed nothing but positive, so I’m wondering.

    I read this book a while back and really enjoyed it. I used to be a dancer (childhood, and was never going to be pro. Too “fat”) so I get this seedy and awful underbelly of dancing. I thought the story was well told and portrayed an accurate view of the world of dance.


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