I was given a free copy of this book to review and knew absolutely nothing about it before it arrived in the post. It is definitely not the sort of book I would choose. If I picked it up in the library or a bookshop, it would go straight back on the shelf. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing style. It was well written, and there were quite a few bits of nice imagery and dialogue that I enjoyed.
The ballet stuff didn’t actually get on my nerves or bore me as much as I had expected. But I’m afraid the rest did. The characters were all rather superficial and a bit irritating, and didn’t seem to develop throughout the course of the story. I didn’t get on with Joan, and couldn’t decide whether the author was trying to present her sympathetically or whether she too thought Joan was annoying. The plot was pretty thin too. Joan’s affair with Arslan is unconvincing, and you spend the rest of the book waiting for the fireworks when Joan ‘gets dragged back into the world of ballet’, but it’s all a bit of a damp squib. The secondary characters all felt a bit tacked on and underdeveloped – it was as though the author felt there needed to be some interest in the intervening years of Joan’s life, but couldn’t really find anything to do with her.
Well written, but just not my cup of tea.
Title: Astonish Me
Author: Maggie Shipstead
Source: Free review copy from Waterstones
Rating: 2 stars
Keep, return, swap or burn? Swap