The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: December 7th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fourteen 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, 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.


First Line:

You start out as potential energy and then you fall.

the ballerinas by rachel kapelke-dale

I am not a big fan of books written about ballerinas. I don’t like reading about it. So, I surprised myself when I decided to accept the review invite from the publisher. Something about the cover and the blurb called to me and said, “Read me.” Well, while it wasn’t my favorite book in the entire world, it also wasn’t my most disliked book either.

The Ballerinas is a story about friendship, ballet, and secrets that people keep. Delphine, Margaux, and Lindsay are students at a ballet school associated with the Paris Opera Ballet. Best friends, they also are rivals. Then an accident happens, and the girls each go in different directions. After 13 years, Delphine is back in Paris. But some secrets are threatening to come out. What secrets are there? What did Delphine and Margaux do 13 years ago, and why are they afraid to tell Lindsay?

The Ballerinas had dual timelines, with each told from the POV of Delphine. Usually, I don’t mind when a story goes from past to present, but in this case, it annoyed me. The storyline would switch after something significant was revealed, or something was about to happen. It could happen several times during a chapter, and honestly, it was exhausting to read.

All that switching also affected the flow of the book. It made it very choppy, and I had difficulty getting into the story. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. The pacing was also affected by this. It was a medium-paced book, but it felt slower than it should have been.

I didn’t care for Delphine. She came across as a shallow, self-centered woman who didn’t care who she hurt to gain fame as a ballet choreographer. She 100% deserved every dressing down that she got in the book.

Margaux wasn’t much better, but I did feel bad for her. She felt so much guilt for what happened that night (the night of Lindsay’s accident) that it affected her on a personal level. She was also dealing with infertility. That was one of the more painful scenes to read. It was raw, authentic, and millions of women can empathize with her.

Out of the three, I liked Lindsay the most. She was more down-to-earth than the other two. But then the events at the end of the book happened. They left me going, “What the heck?”. It was like she had a personality change. I was left shaking my head and wondering, “Why?

There were some memorable secondary characters in The Ballerinas. Stella was my favorite, and that is because she tore Delphine a new one at the hospital. She called her out on everything, and that caused Delphine to reevaluate her life. Jock (or Jacques) was the other memorable one. He was a sleazy, skeezy jerk and deserved everything that he got coming to him. I did have hopes of his character turning out differently, but oh well.

The mystery angle of The Ballerinas was interesting. I did figure out what happened pretty early on in the book. Still, it did make for an exciting read.

There was a slight suspense angle in the book also. That happened towards the end of the book, after the incident with Jock. It wasn’t enough to get my heart pumping, but it did keep my attention. Of course, the aftermath of it was fascinating.

There are trigger warnings in The Ballerinas. They would be statutory rape, revenge porn, cancer, infertility, abortion, domestic violence, adultery, and murder. So, I would strongly suggest not reading this book if any of these triggers you.

The end of The Ballerinas was… exciting, and it was a rollercoaster. I did not see what happened with Daniel and Lindsay coming at all. That did take me by surprise. What also surprised me was how Delphine suffered zero consequences for what happened. I remember thinking to myself, “If this were in America, it wouldn’t have gone that route.” I liked the small epilogue and thought it fitted for Stella.

I would recommend The Ballerinas for anyone over the age of 21. There is mild violence, language, and sex.

4 Comments

  1. Carla says:

    Excellent review Jolie. I am happy that it was an okay read for you. I was worried as I have this one to read. I usually enjoy dual timelines, but it sounds like it could have been done better in this one. I guess I will see for myself.

    1. Jolie says:

      I hope you like it!! I am in the same boat with dual timelines but with this book, I didn’t like how it was done. And thank you!!

  2. Tessa says:

    The ending was a big shock, wasn’t it? I never expected it to go there, especially with how the story had gone before that point. I thought it was a good, not great, read also. Excellent review!

    1. Jolie says:

      Oh my, yes. I wasn’t even prepared for the book to go in that direction. I did a “Wait, what did I read” take after that….lol. And thank you!!!

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