Staff Recommendation: The world of ballet revealed in Maggie Shipstead’s novel is fascinating. Joan, an ambitious member of the corps de ballet, helps the Russian Star Arslan Rusakov to defect in 1975. Their subsequent love affair dies out, and with it Joan’s dreams of success. She marries her childhood friend and moves to a different life in California. Eventually she opens a ballet school there. The discovery that her son is a very talented dancer brings her former lover back into her life with dramatic consequences.