HQ Fiction Australia, 2019
A dancer herself, Kerry Turner is in an excellent position to write about the professional aspects of dance in this historical fiction set mostly in a tumultuous Russia between 2014 and 2017 with a postscript in Paris in 1920.
Her fictional hero and heroines are woven into the documented story of the Romanov ballet company, dancers to the Tsar. While there is considerable sympathy for the dancers and the art of ballet, the author does not flinch from the excesses of life in the Imperial orbit.
Stories of revolution are always about inequality between rich and poor and about the impossibility of reaching a place of goodness and balance in the aftermath of fury and retribution.
Kerri Turner treats us to many interesting titbits in her historical account of the lives of the imperial dancers as well as exploring many technical aspects of dance itself. The ballets referred to are for the most part accurate to the time and place as are the major players in the art. The development of new modes of dance in Diaghilev’s work also gets more than a mention.
The theme of the futility of war and the ugliness of human behaviour in extremis is strongly developed. However, we are also asked to consider the capacity human beings have for resilience and resourcefulness as well as for frailty. This is also a story of love and betrayal during a period of huge social upheaval and war. The personal and the political balance nicely in this debut novel.
Kerri Turner’s second novel, The Daughter of Victory Lights, will be released in February 2020.