Harriet Morton is eighteen years old (or nineteen according to the back cover copy) and her dreary life with her aunt and her college professor father is illuminated only by her ballet lessons. When Dubrov comes to her lessons, for he is a friend of her teacher, looking for girls to take across the ocean in a production of Swan Lake, he instantly sees Harriet’s talent. Except, there’s no way she’ll be allowed to go. Not by her father, not by her aunt, and not by her equally dull college professor intended husband-to-be. But a chance encounter encourages her and Harriet will pursue her dreams no matter what.
I loved the nontraditional setting, both in time and subject matter, of this book, used as I am to reading about urban fantasy and vampires and dragons. Harriet is a delightfully plucky young woman who doesn’t whine or cry about her situation; she takes everything with aplomb. And when circumstances happen, she takes her chances, knowing full well what might happen.
Though the plot does rely in several places on more “chance”, something that this author and publisher found wearing towards the end of the book, it kept me engrossed and I had a hard time putting this book down. The story pulls you in and takes you along with prose that is appropriate to the time and very robust in its descriptions. So much so, that it did take me about a chapter to get into this story.
If I had any complaints about this book, it would be the “chance” encounters and things that happen, as well as the way, I felt, the story because wrapped up all too neatly in the end. The epilogue showing Harriet and others ten years in the future was a nice touch, especially given that WWI had happened in the meantime.
For lovers of the arts, lovers of a story, or young adult readers (or adults) looking for a story that teaches you that it is all right to follow your dreams at all costs, this is a highly recommended story.