A review of Maggie Shipstead's new novel "Astonish Me" by Maureen Corrigan for NPR.
Unlucky Joan had indulged in a quick fling with an old beau, while on the rebound from a masochistic affair with Arslan Rusakov, the Soviet ballet star she helped to defect to the West. Think Baryshnikov — and, in fact, while you're thinking Baryshnikov, you might know that 1977 film he starred in called The Turning Point. There's a certain resemblance here to that tale of a former ballerina (played in the movie by Shirley MacLaine) who's drawn back into the dance world she left because of an unplanned pregnancy, when her now-teenage child shows promise of being a prodigy. The same thing happens to Joan: Her son, Harry, grows up in California resolutely immune to soccer and baseball and, instead, nuts about ballet. His passion and talent pull Joan back into Arslan's fiery orbit.