Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.
Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.
But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall.
Watch Her Fall is an exquisite novel, certainly to my mind Erin Kelly’s best book yet, which is saying something considering the quality of what came before.
Set in the intense, emotional world of ballet, the dancers living in a bubble of professional artistry, a world of complete focus and competition, Ava is about to hit the pinnacle of her career. However there are those in her life who would see her fail..
The writing here is simply superb, an immersive, descriptive joy to read that sets you in a place like no other. It is part mystery, part character study, all drama, an extremely complex and intelligent tale that subtly dances in the mind much like a ballet itself.
The intricate nature of the relationships, especially between Ava and her father, the unforgiving Mr K, sets the scene for an unpredictable, deeply heart wrenching mystery where both nothing and everything is as it seems. I fell into this one and emerged feeling a bit battered but a bit in awe. One of those novels you live and breathe as much as you read.
If I read a better book this year I’ll be very surprised.