The Master's Muse
Copenhagen, 1956: Tanaquil Le Clercq, known as Tanny, is a gorgeous, talented, and spirited young ballerina whose dreams are coming true. She is married to the love of her life, George Balanchine—the famous mercurial director of New York City Ballet—and she has become a star around the world. But one fateful evening, only hours after performing, Tanny falls suddenly and gravely ill; she awakens from a feverous sleep to find that she can no longer move her legs.
Tanny is diagnosed with polio and Balanchine devotes himself to caring for his wife. But after Tanny discovers she will never walk again, their relationship is challenged as Balanchine returns to the company, choreographing ballets inspired by the ever-younger, more beautiful and talented dancers. Their marriage is put to the ultimate test as Tanny battles to redefine her dreams.
THE MASTER'S MUSE - A Novel
Reading Group Guide
It is often said, behind every great man, there is a great woman. In the case of celebrated and esteemed choreographer George Balanchine, there were several. The Master’s Muse is the spectacular reimagining of his fifth and final wife, Tanaquil Le Clercq. At just twenty-seven years old, Tanny’s brilliant career as a ballerina was ended and her entire world shattered when she contracted polio. She lost her ability to dance, and with that, feared the loss of her husband’s affection and desire. Varley O’Connor masterfully enters the mind of Tanny and delivers a first person perspective on life as a ballerina, polio victim, and muse to one of ballet’s most famous figures of the twentieth century.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. The Master’s Muse is broken up into three parts: “polio,” “Being Russian,” and “The Body.” Discuss the significance of these three part tit see more