The Last Days of the Ro­manov Dancers

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - BOOKS - by Kerri Turner, HarperColl­ins ES

If you think you know bal­let, Kerri Turner may just turn that on its head. Ex­pertly weav­ing dance the­ory and his­tory in her de­but novel, the bal­let world she has cre­ated in The Last Days of the Ro­manov Dancers is beau­ti­ful, dar­ing, de­cep­tive and a sur­pris­ing mix in­deed. Set in 1914 against the back­drop of the ten­sions that even­tu­ally ex­plode into the

Rus­sian Revolution­s (which gave rise to the Soviet Union), the novel fol­lows am­bi­tious bal­let dancers Valentina Yer­shova (who is quite un­like­able at the be­gin­ning) and Luka Zhirkov. Both from poor back­grounds and fight­ing for a mean­ing­ful place in the aris­to­cratic world of the Ro­manov Imperial Bal­let Com­pany in Pet­ro­grad (now St Peters­burg), the two find them­selves star­ing down so­cial con­straints while try­ing to rise above vin­dic­tive back­room politics, and that’s just at the com­pany. As the war takes hold, ev­ery­thing Valentina and Luka know and have strived for be­comes a sym­bol of overindul­gence and greed, mak­ing them tar­gets, and the two are left fight­ing not just for each other but for their lives.

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