Ballet Shoes

This is the book Meg Ryan knows about in You’ve Got Mail… as well as all the other Shoes books. And it’s wonderful. Engaging characters doing their best to survive a series of setbacks and disappointments in the theatre and ballet. The audition passages are gripping.

It’s also a window into a pre-war (1937) world when the live-in housekeeper/nanny  is a good friend and part of the of the family; when cocoa and biscuits are the ultimate comfort; when lodgers can be found by placing a request in Harrods. The cynic might sneer and dismiss it all as the travails of the over-privileged. But those audition scenes, and the subsequent struggles to find – and hold onto – steady work on stage, put the lie to that. These young girls might well have a nanny and live just down the road from Harrods – but they have to work for what they want. They really have to work.

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