I set aside April to read several books with ballet as a theme. With this, my third book, I delve into the world of George Balanchine, the “master” of dancer and famed choreographer of the New York City Ballet. The Master’s Muse is actually about his fifth wife, Tanaquil “Tanny” LeClerc, a famed ballerina in her own right, who was discovered and groomed by Balanchine. Author Varley O’Connor thought it would be interesting to present a novel that told LeClerc’s story – partly because she was the only Balanchine wife who didn’t write a memoir, and partly because she succumbed to polio in 1959, ending her career and changing her relationship with her husband.
I loved the idea of this book and thought O’Connor did a wonderful job researching the life of Ms. LeClerc and George Balanchine. It was reminiscent of The Paris Wife or The Aviator’s Wife, interesting but still a bit distant from the main characters. I suppose this is appropriate, given LeClerc’s penchant for privacy. I would have liked to know more from the author about what fictional license she took with the story. For instance, she said Carl was invented. I found that disheartening, because that was the one part of this story that truly touched my heart. Still, I’m glad I read this novel, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in these real life people.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012
Amazon Book Preview of The Master’s Muse