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The Master's Muse: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455135089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455135080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,549,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"What a rare pleasure to be introduced to Tanaquil Le Clercq through The Master’s Muse. I was enchanted from the first page by Varley O’Connor’s graceful portrait of this remarkable woman. How privileged we readers are to have the life in all of its strength and intelligence and elegance. Le Clercq is rendered without fuss or ornament, in a manner wholly at one with the beauty she and Balanchine strove for in their art."
--Paul Harding, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Tinkers


"A brilliant novel in memoir form, The Master's Muse is pure magic. As I read and was thoroughly absorbed by the writing, the remarkable characters, and the story, I simply could not believe this was a work of fiction, not an authentic memoir, expertly written. The Master’s Muse is a superb performance by Varley O'Connor. From one writer to another, my hat's off."
--Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife, Abundance, and Adam & Eve



"An utterly gorgeous rendering of the life of ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq, whose career was destroyed overnight by polio in 1956. O'Connor vividly recreates the personalities and intrigues of the dance world of the fifties and sixties, but her greatest triumph is in her fascinating portrait of the steely Le Clercq and the enigmatic Balanchine, who first made her his perfect ballerina, then married her, and ultimately betrayed her."

--Adrienne Sharp, author of The True Memoirs of Little K, The Sleeping Beauty, and White Swan, Black Swan

"A fictional portrait of ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq’s struggle with polio—and George Balanchine. This is not a novel about victimization or the malevolence of genius, but rather about the painful accommodations all of us make for the things and people we love. Thoughtful, tender and quite gripping, even for readers unfamiliar with the historical events the author sensitively reimagines."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Loving Frank was a novel about architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most scandalous love affair. The Paris Wife centered on the first Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. Into this group of well-researched novelizations of famous love lives comes Varley O’Connor’s The Master’s Muse, about New York City Ballet artistic director George Balanchine."
--O. The Oprah Magazine

"Choreographer George Balanchine’s fifth wife, ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq, never wrote about her relationship with her husband, but if she had we can only hope it would be as graceful and penetrating as what O’Connor portrays in [The Master's Muse]. This passionate novel not only gives a glimpse into the ballet world of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, its eccentric characters bring the story to life."
--Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

VARLEY O'CONNOR is the author of three novels, The Cure, A Company of Three, and Like China. Her short prose has appeared in Faultline: Journal of Art and Literature, AWP Writer's Chronicle, Driftwood, Algonkian Magazine, the Sun, and in an anthology, Naming the World and Other Exercises for Creative Writers. In fall 2007 she joined the faculty at Kent State University, where in addition to undergraduate creative writing, she teaches fiction and creative nonfiction writing in the Northeast Ohio Universities Consortium MFA program.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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A great read for any ballet fans.
Nicole J. Rademan
Balanchine is portrayed generously, overflowing with energy and joie de vivre, a man forever falling in love but never abandoning the previous captor of his heart.
JS-C
The writing is stunning, the story absolutely fascinating and intriguing.
Minter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By JS-C on May 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Varely O'Connor's masterful novel, The Master's Muse, is an ode to talent lost and courage gained. Tanaquil Le Clercq's tragedy--a ballerina in her prime who loses the use of her legs to polio--is powerful copy; O'Connor imagines the life behind the headlines and takes us into her character without pity or prying, bringing her story to touchable life. The dramatic context of the elite world of ballet moves the story forward at a fast pace with writing that is both deeply felt and expressed. This is also a love story, between Tanaquil (Tanny)and ballet choreographer George Balanchine. He was a lover of life--and women. Tanny was his fifth wife and he broke her heart. Her second victory is to go on loving a man for himself, setting aside what would have made a lesser woman bitter. Balanchine is portrayed generously, overflowing with energy and joie de vivre, a man forever falling in love but never abandoning the previous captor of his heart. Tanny's courage derives from an equally generous heart, one more tempered, and therefore, perhaps, more potent. How beautifully, yet with grit, Varley O'Connor takes us into the world she has imagined. -Janyce Stefan-Cole, author of the novel Hollywood Boulevard
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Helen Fleder on May 19, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I knew both the master and the muse personally, and lived through many of the experiences described in Varley's book. I can vouch for the authenticity of the story; a tribute to George Balanchine, the most famous choreographer of our time and the dancers he inspired and adored. However, only a fine writer could bring such a story to life in a way that would be fascinating and believable to every reader.

The descriptions are written with great passion and empathy. The book is truly a treasure. You'll want to buy copies for all of your dearest friends!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Historical Fiction Notebook on July 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dancers don't last long. Ballet shapes the body into unnatural poses of beauty and exacts a price of stress, injury and endless rehearsals that would challenge even the greatest athelete. A dancer's time is brief, their work all the more transcedent because of its impermanence.

For Tanaquil Le Clercq, the fifth wife of George Balanchine, legendary Russian choregrapher who almost single-handedly shaped the direction of 20th century ballet, this fact became brutally clear all too early. Le Clerq, the prototype for a Balanchine ballerina, was struck down by polio at the age of twenty-seven in 1956.

O'Connor, a four-time novelist whose father suffered from the disease, imagines her way into the mind of the famously private Le Clercq from the moment she contracts polio through her much-publicized divorce from Balanchine, their tenuous reconciliation and on to his death in 1981.

O'Connor does a brilliant job of creating a strong voice for Le Clercq. Although we only see glimpses of her childhood and her courtship with Balanchine in flashbacks, the reader gets a strong sense of Le Clercq's life and how her experiences informed her subsequent choices. I was both disappointed and surprised to see O'Connor ignore Le Clercq's dancing days. It's a brave choice for an author - we meet Le Clercq after she has lost her greatest ability. The decision results in a unique perspective on Le Clercq - we know her only as a cripple and an estranged wife. We see her in her worst moments and only experience her best moments in flashback. This dilutes the brutal impact of polio but it also make Le Clercq more flawed and human.

Muse isn't limited by Le Clercq's perspective.
Read more ›
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Rush on May 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I remember years ago when I first heard about the story of Tanaquil Le Clercq. I was stunned by the cruel irony- a beautiful, star ballerina is struck down by an affliction that allows her to recover- but to lose all movement from the waist down. She was also married to the God of the ballet world, and it seemed that it must have been a prison of torment to be surrounded by her former life, but without being able to rejoin it fully. Tanaquil Le Clercq was a private person, so we don't know many of the details of how she felt about her life experiences. I believe Varley O'Connor does a remarkable job of imagining her thoughts and feelings, based on factual research. This book also educated me about Polio, and inspired me to read more about the disease, and the historic vaccination. In reading more about Tanaquil, it seems she may have been saved from her fate if she took the vaccine before going to Europe. I read that early vaccines could make a person ill, and perhaps they didn't want to risk their star being slowed down as they embarked on the tour? I am also very curious to know how she exactly caught the disease- some suggest she tasted the water in Venice to know if it was salt water or fresh. I am sure we will never know. I keep thinking about how she wanted to stay in Paris at 19, and what the course of her life might have been if she had made more of her own choices. As O'Connor imagines, Tanny was haunted by the "what ifs." This is a novel, but it is probably the most complete representation of the life of Tanaquil Le Clercq available. It is a touching story, well-told, and I hope it inspires more interest in her life and work.
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