‘Set in the cut-throat world of an elite London ballet company, where ambition, secrecy and rivalry are rife’
– Watch Her Fall
[ About the Book ]
Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet.
Dancers would kill for the part.
Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.
But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall …
[ My Review ]
Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly was published April 1st with Hodder & Stoughton and I am delighted to be joining the blog tour today with my review. Described as ‘a masterclass in psychological thriller-writing from a novelist at the height of her powers,’ Watch Her Fall is set in the world of ballet, a world that most of us know very little about. I absolutely loved the 2010 Darren Aronofsky movie Black Swan with the incredible Natalie Portman. There is something very powerful about a ballet and I do recall when I was younger going to Cork Opera House every November to see a performance of different ballets. Ethereal is the word I would use. I remember being in awe of their strength, their elegance and their absolute perfection.
‘Thriller queen Kelly is back with a new novel about a dancer at the London Ballet Company . . . Think Black Swan but in book form’ Cosmopolitan
In Watch Her Fall Erin Kelly takes the readers on a journey behind the scenes of the London Russian Ballet Company (LRB). Established by Nikolai Kirilov, a man who defected from his home country and brought with him a regime of teaching that was to blow the mind of all who witnessed one of his performances. The London Russian Ballet Company was more than just a theatre. It was a training ground for young ballet students whose lives fell under the complete control of Nikolai Kirilov once they crossed his door with their suitcases in hand. From twelve years of age, these students abide completely by the rules of the LRB. They eat, drink, dance, sleep and repeat under strict supervision and a punishing schedule. But all are willing to sacrifice a life beyond the walls of this place, that is affectionately known as the Gulag, as all are driven to succeed, all looking to climb to the top of their profession and become the chosen one.
Ava Kirilov has grown up immersed in the world of ballet, Now finally after achieving her dream of becoming the star of the LRB’s upcoming performance of Swan Lake, Ava is excited yet also feeling the pressure of her father Nikolai’s strive for 100% perfection. Nikolai Kirilov has the reputation of being a slave driver. Every student is respectful of him, in awe of him but also fearful of him. One mistake, one error of judgement and a career is terminated, thrown out of the company with a besmirched reputation. Nikolai Kirilov sees his artists as creatures to be caged in the Gulag, bent and twisted into a shape that he desires. He does not have any interest in the person. It is all about the performance for Nikolai Kirilov.
Ava is used to the ways of her father, the taskmaster, but Ava is feeling unsettled. Something is off with the atmosphere in the theatre. There is an unexplained threatening vibe that she hasn’t experienced before. Aware that she is about to embark on a role that is coveted by many, Ava is watchful, restless and perpetually exhausted. Swan Lake is about to start a worldwide tour. The posters are up. The cast is ready but something is very very rotten….
Watch Her Fall is a tale of two halves. Erin Kelly takes the reader behind the scenes into the cut and thrust of the ballet world. As an audience we only ever see the mesmerising performances on stage of these almost mythical dancers. But behind every ballet performed there is a story of hard work, pain and determination. The extent of the steps that are taken to achieve such perfection is fabulously depicted by Erin Kelly. The smell of the resin, the sweat and the pure raw grit is very much evident. As Erin Kelly herself says ‘the ballerinas in my book are fictional, but the environment they live in, that strange mix of dedication, paranoia and make-believe, is all too real’ I have to say I was very much captivated with this element of the story. But Watch Her Fall is also the story of a number of people who are fearful for their very survival. The story gets a little blurred when it takes a rather sinister turn unveiling the desperate levels that people will stoop to in order to survive. I must admit that the story did take an unexpected direction, one that did surprise and throw me a little but I decided to just roll with it to see where it would take me.
Watch Her Fall is a complex tale. Packed with multiple twists and turns it resembles a fairytale in many ways as the reader is introduced to a mixed cast of characters, good and bad. With a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek of the ballet world, Erin Kelly brings all the individuals, with their ambitions, very much to life. An enjoyable read!
[ Bio ]
Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She Said, Stone Mothers and Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. He Said/She Said spent six weeks in the top ten in both hardback and paperback, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, and selected for both the Simon Mayo Radio 2 and Richard & Judy Book Clubs. She has worked as a freelance journalist since 1998 and written for the Guardian, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, New Statesman, Red, Elle, Cosmopolitan and The Pool. Born in London in 1976, she lives in north London with her husband and daughters.
Twitter – @mserinkelly