Welcome to the SheReads Bookish Entertainment column! Each week, enjoy a new article by Garrett Billings— Bookstagrammer, blogger, book-to-screen junkie—on all things Reading + Hollywood. Stars’ book club picks and trailer reveals, book-to-screen news and book pop culture, and of course, Gare’s specialty, choosing his ideal Hollywood casts for book adaptations—Bookish Entertainment has you covered.
Fans of Megan Abbott and Black Swan can unite for The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale! This twisted and immersive tale of complex female friendships in the ballet world was like reading fantasy for me. I was in unfamiliar territory and could not put it down. Kapelke-Dale does a phenomenal job of engrossing her readers in a beautifully atmospheric story and then slowly peeling back the layers of the plot by showing the ugliness of competition, and how friendship can bend and break like a pair of pointe shoes.
Delphine Leggier threw away her prestigious soloist role that most girls would kill for at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life thirteen years ago. A dark secret was the only thing that could make Delphine leave behind her passion and her two best friends, Margaux and Lindsay. Now at thirty-six, Delphine has returned to the Palais Garnier Opera House to choreograph a ballet that will be the catalyst in the next phase of her career. As she reunites with her friends, Delphine learns that while she may have harbored this secret for many years, nothing stays hidden forever.
I loved the way this story was written. Kapelke-Dale creates an interesting and unique timeline by going back and forth between the three friends’ younger years and the present timeline. The story and pacing really began to intensify as the chapters of the previous years began to get closer to the present timeline and I found each timeline to be very intriguing and yet, both shrouded in mystery. These characters are complex and I loved reading the contrast between who they were in their younger years and who they became as adults. The friendships are like elastic bands that keep stretching, and as the story went on, I wondered how far they could go before it snapped. I pay special attention to characterization and how authors write a character, and Kapelke-Dale really stood out with relying on these characters to effectively tell this story. Although Delphine is the main character, Margaux and Lindsay are on their own special layer with every other character trailing behind and weaving in and out of the story as the spotlight requires them to do so…similar to a ballet.
This story would make a fantastic series; there’s so much begging to unravel and reveal. Whether a taut thriller or a crackling television series, here’s who I would love to see tell the story of The Ballerinas:
Delphine Leger – Delphine is a thirty-six year old woman with an astonishing passion for ballet and our main character. When I think of Delphine, I needed someone who could effortlessly pull off the ballerina look and also have a large range of emotion. I immediately wanted Keira Knightley to play Delphine and I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to bring this story to life.
Margaux Bisset – Out of the trio, Margaux is the more blunt and somewhat moody character that has some fantastic one-liners. I needed someone who could be intimidating and yet could play a character you wanted to be around. As the novel progressed, I thought Rooney Mara could effortlessly play Margaux. She has the perfect amount of edginess and she’s an amazing actress!
Lindsay Price – Lindsay is the sweet and somewhat more innocent of the trio of friends who is blonde and tiny. Lindsay goes through a lot in this book, and I wanted someone who seemed sweet and innocent but could really knock some of the more emotional scenes out of the park, including arguments with other characters. Kate Bosworth is someone I think would do a fantastic job with this character. She is severely underrated and her work in Straw Dogs was brilliant.
Jacques Gerard – Jacques is the kind of guy you know you should stay away from but something about him just draws you closer. He’s the most handsome man you’ve ever seen, he’s seductive, and he also is rather mysterious and alluring. I wanted someone who could be charming and also play into their darkness a little bit if need be. This is a complex secondary character and I think Bill Skarsgard would be perfect for Jacques. He is handsome and personable in his real life but can also play a fantastic villain…if needed.
Daniel Faidherbe – Daniel is Lindsay’s husband. Choosing someone for a character like Daniel is always tough because for majority of the book, he sort of weaves in and out like a friend who pops in to say hi every now and then. As the story came near to completion and the reveals were not only effecting the trio of friends but the people around them, I needed an actor who could steal the scene. I couldn’t help but think of Julian Morris and his work in Pretty Little Liars with how he could easily play someone you loved one minute and questioned their motives the next.
Camille – Camille is the young ingenue character who again, comes in and out of the story but her character plays an important part for someone who is only in about 10% of the book. I needed someone recognizable and full of talent for this role. Is she a friend or a foe? Anya Taylor-Joy was the first person I thought of and I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather see play Camille!
Dmitri Sokalov – Dmitri is this choreographer who plays a rather important role in Delphine’s life and I wanted someone who was attractive and mysterious. I felt with this character, I needed someone who could intrigue you—but also scare the hell out of you—all wrapped up in a devilishly handsome role. I thought the perfect person for this would be Adrien Brody.
Nathalie Dorival – Nathalie is one of those characters who truly steals the scenes she’s in. She is ruthless and blunt and so enjoyable to read. I loved every one of her scenes and I wanted someone who could demand attention if they played this character. The minute she came into the story, I just knew Tilda Swinton would be a fantastic Nathalie.
Stella – Stella is one of the most important people in Delphine’s life and a character that stole the show for me. As she became more prominent in the story, I needed to envision someone who could be at Delphine’s side and play this almost maternal role. Even with a secondary character, Stella was a challenge. She is kind, comedic, and a bit brazen at times. I wanted someone elegant and extremely talented and as soon as I realized that, I could only picture the fantastic Faye Dunaway.