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The Cranes Dance (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – May 15, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“A page-turning narrative…Howrey captures the intricacies of an ambitious and thwarted ballerina dealing with the weight of her younger sister’s success in the same field.”

“An engrossing novel about the cutthroat world of New York City ballet, without the hallucinations…The Cranes Dance is an addictive, absorbing take on competition and sisterhood. B+”
Entertainment Weekly (Must List, 5/18)

"The Cranes Dance holds the door open to the candy store—the sacrosanct world of ballet—and I couldn’t be happier for the privilege.  It’s fresh and often hilarious, sharp and adroit.  Finding out who’s behind that stage curtain, really behind the curtain, makes for utterly engaging reading.  I love this novel!" —Amanda Boyden, author of Pretty Little Dirty
“Howrey’s engaging new novel exposes the competitive world of professional ballet through Kate Crane, a charmingly sarcastic ballerina at a crossroads. . . . Kate is an ideal guide to an unfamiliar world, from her irreverent explanations of her ballets (Howrey was a professional dancer) to her relatable self-doubt and honesty. Her revelations about family, talent, and what makes us special create a thought-provoking and entertaining read.” —Publishers Weekly

“Witty, sharp and exhilarating. . . . A tale of sibling rivalry, youthful ambition and dreams lost and found.” —Susan Fales-Hill, author of One Flight Up  
“With its universal themes of ambition and competition, sisterhood and sacrifice, it will appeal to bad dancers as well as balletomanes—an addictive, readable delight.” —Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion

“Playful and smart, Meg Howrey’s fresh voice unveils an eye opening tale about the secretive and obsessive world of ballet.” —Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire

About the Author

Meg Howrey was a professional dancer and actress. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Original edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307949826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307949820
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #895,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Leeanna Chetsko VINE VOICE on April 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kate Crane is a soloist at a prestigious New York ballet company. It's almost but not quite the culmination of her life's dream. She's not a principal -- that went to Gwen, her younger sister. In case you don't know, a principal is the highest rank in a company. Principals dance the starring roles.

But Gwen is back home with their parents, recuperating from a mysterious breakdown. Kate is living in Gwen's apartment and slowly going mad. After she throws her neck out doing Swan Lake -- a serious injury that she covers with Vicodin and ice -- Kate pirouettes her way into a tailspin of doubt and destructive behavior.

Kate isn't sure if she's responsible for Gwen's dive off the deep end. I don't want to spoil it for you, but once you learn about some of Gwen's "symptoms," including obsessive compulsive behaviors, the catalyst for the novel is predictable. "The Cranes Dance" starts off after Gwen's breakdown, and there's a fair number of flashbacks about the sisters' past. Should Kate have seen it coming? Should she have done X? Should she have done Y?

I understand sibling rivalry very well, but Kate's focus on Gwen eventually irritated me. It got to be a bit much, and I wanted to skip over those passages and get back to the dancing. Happily, there was a lot of that. I've read a few books recently that are supposed to be about ballet, but there's practically nothing about ballet in them. "The Cranes Dance" delivered well on that aspect, and with the author's past as a dancer, it's believable and realistic, too.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Famolari TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kate Crane is a principal dancer with a New York City Ballet Company. She's tough, out-spoken, and needy. After a neck injury, she discovers her sister, Gwen's, stash of Vicodin and starts to develop a habit. She's just broken up with her boyfriend and her parents, at Kate's request, have taken her sister home to recover from what are apparently psychotic breaks. Kate thinks she did the right thing, but can she ever be sure? She has felt for many years inferior to Gwen as a dancer. Did she want her out of the way?

The book is devoted to Kate's thoughts: coming to terms with her past, her relationship with her sister, and perhaps most of all, her devotion to ballet. In the story, she questions all of these things and eventually comes to a resolution.

The action centers around a prominent New York ballet company and gives us a glimpse of what it means to be a featured dancer. I found the details very well done. It's obvious that the author knows what she's writing about.

If you're interested in the ballet, this is a wonderful book. You feel that you're living the life of a ballerina. However, I found the angst about her relationship with her sister overdrawn and tedious. Sibling rivalry is a reality, and I can appreciate Kate's emotional problems, but I thought there was too much emphasis on her inner demons and not enough action.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. The story revolves around Kate and Gwen Crane, two sisters who are part of the same top New York City ballet company. In a way, the sisters are rivals, but in other ways they are each other's biggest supporters (as is the relationship with most sisters on the planet, I guess). Kate is the narrator of the story, who details behind-the-scenes drama at the ballet company and her sister Gwen's psychotic nervous breakdowns. I love ballet and very much enjoyed all the dance elements of the book. The narrative style of the novel is also very original: honest and amusing and ironic. The author has a distinctive voice and I very much enjoyed the writing style of the book. However, it totally dragged in parts, and Kate's character really started to irritate me after a while. (Stop whining! Stop pill popping! Get with the program! Sheesh.) I really thought I'd like the book more, and was disappointed that I had so many issues with it. I think if you are interested in the ballet world even slightly, you'll enjoy this book at least somewhat. Otherwise, you may want to skip this one, sadly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Hoffer on July 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kate Crane is a soloist in a famed New York ballet company. She's never quite achieved true fame, but she is well-respected and has the opportunity to dance many featured roles in a number of ballets. Her younger sister, Gwen, also a ballet dancer in the same company, quickly eclipsed Kate in terms of talent and stardom, but after injuring herself and suffering a bit of a breakdown, Gwen has returned to their childhood home in Michigan. Gwen's absence gives Kate the opportunity to dance outside of her sister's shadow, but it also leaves her alone with her own thoughts of guilt, for recognizing Gwen's symptoms long ago but not getting her the help she needed, as well as her own obsessions of perfection. "At some point you did something perfectly and now your whole life is a search to re-create that," Kate said at one point in the book.

The Cranes Dance follows Kate as she starts getting the chance to play a more prominent role in the ballet company as she struggles with an injury of her own, as well as questioning about her talent and her own mental toughness. Her relationships with her friends and mentors are fraught with unspoken tension caused by one issue or another, and she finds herself torn between wanting Gwen to recover and return to New York City, and not wanting to have to be her sister's keeper any longer. This book gives a warts-and-all glimpse into the ballet world, the different personalities that occupy it, and the passions that drive it. (Meg Howrey was once a professional dancer, so her authenticity rings true.
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