Having had a bit of a break, it’s so good to be blogging again and today’s guest to stay in with me on Linda’s Book Bag is Barbara L. Baer who is helping me get back into the swing of things.
If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.
Staying in with Barbara L. Baer
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Barbara. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I am choosing my most recent novel The Ballet Lover and would love to sit down with a cup of tea and this small book coming to life with the excitement, beauty, cruelty of ballet at its most dramatic level.
(Now don’t laugh Barbara, and I know you’d never guess to look at me, but I used to have ballet lessons when I was a little girl. The cruelty for me was that my parents couldn’t afford the shoes so I couldn’t progress to the next level.)
What can we expect from an evening in with The Ballet Lover?
Like myself, my narrating character isn’t a dancer herself but is in love with ballet and the great dancers who she follows as a reviewer. To her dismay and growing anguish, she watches as Rudolf Nureyev mistreats his ballerina, the Russian Natalia Makarova who has just defected to the west.
Geneva, the narrator, finds herself drawn too close to the flame of these fiery stars.
(Sounds intriguing. I think the world of ballet has the potential to lead to all kinds of stories.)
What else have you brought along and why?
May your readers enjoy the warm soothing tea as they follow the mercurial stars of the ballet.
(Tea is ALWAYS on the go in this house Barbara.)
I will bring along a recording of Swan Lake and fast forward to the Black Act when the malign Swan seduces the clueless Prince and the heavens send down thunder. In this scene in The Ballet Lover as it happened on the stage, Nureyev lets Makarova fall, so it’s high drama.
Maybe a glass of sherry to calm the nerves?
(I’ll stick to the tea thanks, Barbara, but you help yourself to the sherry. I prefer mine in a trifle!)
Thanks so much, Barbara, for staying in with me to tell me about The Ballet Lover. Our evening together has rekindled all manner of memories for me.
The Ballet Lover
The Ballet Lover exposes the beauty and cruelty of ballet, the performances, the back stage moments, and the personal dramas of the famous ballet dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Natalia Makarova as seen through the eyes of an American female journalist.
Paris, 1970s: the orchestra plays the first ominous note of Swan Lake. In the audience sits Geneva, an American journalist and ballet lover, waiting for the heart-stopping beauty and seduction of the romantic duet to start, but instead she witnesses Rudolf Nureyev failing to catch his Russian partner Natalia Makarova, allowing her to fall with a crash upon the stage.
Geneva interprets the fall as an act of cruelty, a man with all the fame and power in the world brutally letting fall his delicate, wraith-like artistic partner. When other critics defend Nureyev and accuse Makarova of causing her own tumble, Geneva vows revenge on the page, creating havoc in her own career and discovering surprising parallels between herself and the fallen ballerina.
The Ballet Lover is a refined, mesmerizing, fictional account of two of the most celebrated dancers in the dance world, how one compromised the other, and how the drama on the stage often mirrors those played out in real life.
About Barbara L. Baer
Barbara grew up in California, got her BA and MA at Stanford University before going to South India to teach, study dance, and have experiences unlike anything in her American life. She taught in Madras (now Chennai) and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then part of the USSR, which gave her the inspiration and voice for her novella, Grisha the Scrivener. After a decade of encounters and adventures, she returned to the US, taught at Dennison University in Granville, Ohio, worked for newspapers, and wrote fiction and travel pieces.
Barbara has lived many years in Sonoma County, California, where she writes, edits and teaches through the county jail program, tends a garden and an orchard of pomegranates and olives, and is active in environmental and political causes. She lives with her husband, Michael Morey, also a writer and bricoleur, jack of all trades, who keeps things going.