Hester's Story is the third book by Adele Geras that I've read and, similarly to the other two, it's a "saga" type novel (I hate that phrase!) that centres around a strong female character looking back over her life.
From the blurb: "Hester Fielding was once the leading ballerina of her day. Her life is the stuff of drama: a bleak Yorkshire childhood transformed by the discovery of her amazing gifts as a dancer; a dangerous love affair that can only lead to heartbreak; and a secret that would topple her from her pinnacle of fame if it ever came out.
Now Hester has returned to Yorkshire, to Wychwood where, each year at Christmas, a ballet is performed on Twelfth Night in the little theatre there. Just before the company arrives at Wychwood, Hester receives a phone call that brings back haunting memories. As the dancers prepare for the opening night of Sarabande, and loyalties shift and tempers flare, the past comes crashing into the present in ways that Hester could never have predicted. "
Like Facing the Light (which was my pick of the month last Febuary), the characters in this book are very focused on the arts and I feel that I now know a lot more about the underbelly of ballet than I did before! Geras charts the highs and lows of dancing with great compassion and I found that I could understand and even empathise with the sacrifices that characters made in order to excel.
Reading this book really took me back to when I was very young and read Noel Streatfeil's Ballet Shoes. The passion for dancing within the story was so strong that I found myself wistfully regretting that I didn't learn to dance as a child. Whilst secretly acknowledging to myself that there was a very good reason for the lack of ballet in my life and that it's strongly connected to my utter lack of co-ordination or even intermediate balancing skills...