My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ballet for Laura was a bit of a surprise to me, coming blind as I did to it in a charity shop over the Easter weekend. The front cover has a particularly lovely illustration, coupling a white cat with a bent over dancer examining her shoes. The whole thing sang of a sort of delightful hybrid of the Wells, Madeline and the Drina series to me that I had to have a look.
And it’s lovely! It’s very formulaic, but it is lovely in that formula. Laura, with her small pale face and huge dark eyes, is a scholarship girl attending her first term at the Marina School of Ballet. She gets an enemy in the posh rich girl who hates her, and a friend in a misunderstood boy who everyone else hates. This latter part is particularly Sebastian, and gave me a bit of amusement in wondering the chicken and the egg nature of the dance novel. Which comes first? The dark eyed dancer or the sarcastic male potential love interest?
Taking place over the term itself, there’s a lot more school than there is straight dance. It’s a very matter of fact little book, taking a sensible attitude to most things and only briefly engaging in artistic hyperbole when necessary. That’s quite refreshing in a way. Laura’s brilliant, obviously, but she’s not brilliant straight away. She shows brief flashes of her talent and skill but this is a series that feels like it’s settling in for the long run.
There’s something about this that will make me keep an eye out for the next one in the series. It’s a shame that I’d never heard of them before. I was also pleased to discover another entry for my reading list of books featuring gifted and talented characters in Laura and her contemporaries.
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