Joan Joyce is a professional ballet dancer who has always believed that she is destined for a life in the shadows. When her love affair with Russian supremo Arslan Rusakov ended, she ran back into the arms of childhood sweetheart, Jacob Bintz.
Now pregnant, Joan is fated to leave New York, the corps and the cries of “Astonish Me” behind. Under the hazy Californian sun, Joan is unaware of the fascination she invites from others. She lacks the abundant sexuality of neighbour, Sandy; the cocksure nature of Sandy’s husband and the intellect and dependable nature of Jacob. To her mind, all she can offer is ballet.
To occupy her days, she opens a small dance studio. Her son Harry demonstrates a natural aptitude alongside Sandy’s daughter, Chloe. Theirs is a talent that will take them to the top, to a summer school in New York and to a world of simmering emotions and relationships that Joan felt sure she had left behind.
In graceful, inimitable prose, Shipstead draws us into an extraordinary world, and the lives of her vivid and tempestuous characters. Filled with intrigue, brilliant satire, and emotional nuance, Astonish Me is a superlative follow-up to Shipstead's superb debut.