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Nuanced, fresh, and gorgeously well-written, Martha Schabas’ extraordinary debut novel takes us inside the beauty and rigour of professional dance, and the young women striving to make it in that world. Shy and introverted, and trapped between the hyper-sexualised world of her teenaged friends and her dysfunctional family, Georgia is only at ease when she’s dancing. Fortunately, she’s an unusually talented and promising dancer.
When she is accepted into the notoriously exclusive Royal Ballet Academy—Canada’s preeminent dance school—Georgia thinks she has made the perfect escape. In ballet, she finds the exhilarating control and power she lacks elsewhere in her life: physical, emotional and, increasingly, sexual.
This dynamic is nowhere more obvious than in Georgia’s relationship with Artistic Director Roderick Allen. As Roderick singles her out as a star and subjects her to increasingly vicious training, Georgia obsesses about becoming his perfect student, disciplined and sexless. But a disturbing incident with a stranger on the subway, coupled with her dawning recognition of the truth of her parents’ unhappy marriage, causes her to radically reassess her ideas about physical boundaries—a reassessment that threatens both Roderick’s future at the academy and Georgia’s ambitions as a dancer.
The reader becomes completely immersed in Georgia’s version of events as her obsession grows. Teenagers’ confusion and self absorption are authentically conveyed and it is increasingly difficult to determine what is real and what is simply her overactive imagination. An enthralling and intense journey.
An enthralling and intense journey into the dark and disturbed world of a teenager.
An impressive debut from Canadian author Martha Schabas covering a subject oft-neglected in contemporary novels, that of ballet….utterly enchanting, lilting prose…Schabas has a wonderful turn of phrase, painting a delicate picture of growing pains along with some fun, surrounded all the while by ballet. Verdict: An author to watch.
The reader becomes totally immersed in Georgia’s version of events as her obsession grows. Teenager confusion and self-absorption are authentically conveyed and it is increasingly difficult to determine what is real and what is her imagination. An enthralling and intense journey.
A witchy brew of madness and cunning…Schabas’ gritty, no-holds-barred debut is a refreshing change from the high-school dramas and paranormal romances dominating the market for female-oriented teenage fiction. A wildly melodramatic, unashamedly pulpy look at the blood sport that is professional ballet.
Ballerinas can look innocent but Schabas’s debut novel delves into the underbelly of the professional ballet world through the eyes of Georgia, who is also dealing with the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, her own insecurities and a crush on her ballet teacher. Confronting and catchy.
If the movie Black Swan didn’t entirely put you off letting your teenage daughter take ballet classes then Various Positions will finish the job.
There’s a coldness in the novel, a sense of characters not revealing all, that makes it rather intriguing for the reader.
The world of professional dance and its trainees is deftly drawn by this youngCanadian writer in her debut novel. What’s even more impressive is theunobtrusive and layered portrait of adolescent sexuality, which is turbulent at thebest of times and even harder to navigate for Georgia, given her bad parentalmodels and the sexualised, hothouse atmosphere of ballet class. Even readers notinterested in ballet might enjoy this for its craftsmanship and psychologicalacuity.’
‘Schabas is examining the rigorous and conflicting life of the young dancer. Buther exploration reaches beyond the ballet industry, to become an interestingexamination of young people, and particularly women, in modern society. And asthe novel progresses, the ballet aspect almost falls away – becoming a beautifulbackdrop to Georgia’s personal story and evolution into womanhood…VariousPositions isn’t just a ‘ballet book’ it’s also an observations of women and girls in asociety that (much like ballet) demands a certain, indecipherable look and mouldfor beauty that is impossible to grasp let alone represent…Written inbreathtaking prose and making chilling observations, Martha Schabas’s book is ina somewhat similar vein as Darren Aronofsky’s twisted thriller ‘Black Swan’, witha touch of Zoë Heller. Schabas is observing the conflicts of perfection andperception, of obsession and blind obedience. Chillingly perceptive, this bookoffers wonderful behind-the-scenes to the ballet industry, while also being a trulycontemporary examination of girls’ sexuality in society.’