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Eva Stachniak


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Eva Stachniak is an award-winning and internationally bestselling author of five novels. The Winter Palace was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and made The Washington Post’s most notable fiction list in 2012. She holds a PhD in literature from McGill University. Born and raised in Poland, she moved to Canada in 1981, and lives in Toronto. Her latest novel, The Chosen Maiden, was published in Canada, US, Germany, Poland, and Italy.


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Posted by on Mar 13, 2017

“I absolutely adored The Chosen Maiden! Such masterful, sensitive writing, I was immersed from the first page to the last. Eva Stachniak illuminates those historic pathways, blazed at such personal cost, by the ‘dance-greats.’ Most of all, I loved the humanizing of these characters—Bronia, Vaslav, Sergei Diaghilev—who imprinted their genius on our culture, whose names are so familiar, but whose origins and inner lives were not—until now.” —

Veronica Tennant, author of On Stage, Please, Filmmaker, Prima Ballerina

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Media reviews and interviews

Posted by on Jan 4, 2017

History Author Show

           My conversation with Dean Karayanis on The Chosen Maiden.

The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers interview:

           Eva Stachniak on The Chosen Maiden   

Publishers Weeklystar review

Stachniak brilliantly brings the story of Bronia, the lesser-known Nijinsky, to life. She has an excellent command of the period and the dance world, and an ability to draw characters who will enrapture the reader.

The Toronto Star:

…delightful …

…  a tale of intrigue, love, betrayal and redemption set in the realm of art and artists, exploring the line between dedication and obsession, creation and madness.

… Stachniak weaves together beautifully the myriad moments that bring this fascinating family and period to life.

Library Journal:

… exquisite fictionalized memoir.

… Drawing on her thorough research into Bronia’s archives, the author has teased out revealing insights into the art of the dance, and she writes skillfully about the emotional truths that arose from Bronia’s ambitions, family relations, and deep anxieties. Dance fans will welcome this graceful and entrancing foray into the recent past.

Quill and Quire:

Many works of fiction take as their inspiration true events and persons of historical significance, but few do so as lovingly and imaginatively as Eva Stachniak’s fifth novel


a remarkable work of historical fiction

The Chosen Maiden is both a tribute to a female artist who remained true to her vision despite numerous obstacles, and to the woman behind her who made it possible. MORE

The Globe and Mail

Eva Stachniak: ‘We live in a country that embodies the essence of the 21st century’

The Chosen Maiden was born out of my fascination with Ballets Russes, a Russian dance company which, in the summer of 1909, took Paris by storm, and fundamentally transformed Western notions of modern art. I wrote it because, after over 30 years in Canada, I’m still exploring the encounters between East and West, their exhilarating possibilities and illuminating setbacks.. MORE

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Hamilton Review of Books

Posted by on Oct 29, 2017

The brilliant, internationally-acclaimed Polish dancer Vaslav Nijinsky had a sister. As children, Vaslav and Bronia danced together. As adolescents, they both won places to hone their art at the prestigious Imperial Ballet School in St Petersburg. As adults, they danced with the Ballets Russes throughout Europe and choreographed groundbreaking work. Vaslav eclipsed his younger sister in renown, but Bronia was a gifted dancer, choreographer and beloved teacher in her own right.

In The Chosen Maiden, Eva Stachniak brings Bronia out of Vaslav’s shadow. As Vaslav’s star was ravaged by devastating mental illness and the First World War sparked revolution in Russia, Bronia continued to work with grit and determination, creating dance that broke with tradition and challenged the expectations of what female dancers were allowed. In her fifth novel, Stachniak gives us an affecting portrait of a woman who was “strong enough to dance alone.”

Christine Fischer Guy: What drew you to the world of the Ballets Russes?

Eva Stachniak: It was not the Ballets Russes but the brilliant Nijinskys, Vaslav and Bronislava, brother and sister.

After my second Catherine the Great novel, I wanted to look at the end of Catherine’s Russia. At first I searched for an inspiring character among her descendants, but no one at the Imperial Russian court captivated me. Then I looked at the Artists of the Imperial Theatres, and I knew I’d found my people.

I have to confess I didn’t know of Bronislava Nijinska’s existence until I started researching her famous brother, Vaslav. Only then I learned that he had a younger sister Bronislava (or Bronia as she was often called) who was not only a talented dancer and a groundbreaking choreographer, but also a writer of Early Memoirs, a book that captivated my imagination. So it was Bronia’s voice — strong, powerful, inspiring — that led me to the world of Russian ballet and to the Ballets Russes. She was my inspiration, my muse, my guide and my teacher.

More: Christine Fischer Guy interviews Eva Stachniak


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The Chosen Media on-line reviews/interviews

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017

Oxford Dance Writers:

….The Chosen Maiden “novel captures the artistic and personal development of an exceedingly courageous, talented and sensitive woman – a woman way beyond her time in ideas about dance. It also portrays an entire period of rich artistry, complex shifts in political and international affairs and the men and women who to this day are legendary in the world of ballet, music and production design…”


Ballet To the People:

The Chosen Maiden – the title taken from the lead role of Vaslav Nijinsky’s Sacre du Printemps, created for his sister Bronia – is very much about surviving unreal times. About finding the strength to continue on after everything is lost. It is about the duty of artists and the revolutionary power of grassroots movements. “The Chosen Maiden, my brother once told me, is a warrior, not a dying swan. She dances to make life possible again.”


Hubert O’Hearn on The Chosen Maiden:

I thoroughly enjoyed Eva Stachniak’s two novels on Catherine the Great. This one surpasses those. This is a writer in full and complete control of her material, knowing just how much of a ballet to describe in just enough detail and which ballets are worthy of description.


Wandering Educators on The Chosen Maiden:

NEVER have I been so entranced with a book, so reluctant to leave the world the author has created, so INTO a subject I previously knew little about.

The World Dances:

The Chosen Maiden, is pure gold. Every dancer, choreographer, mother of a dancer, or lover of a great story will be immediately immersed in this enticing historical novel ….


Cosmopolitan Review:

The Chosen Maiden, rescuing Nijinska from her brother’s shadow, reveals an artist, one who knows that “to excel, I have to be strong, resilient, see more, understand what is hidden to others”, and also, as her brother told her, that “Art is all that matters, Bronia. Everything else is distraction. 


Portland Book Review on writing The Chosen Maiden. The Curse of the Archives. 

           Wonders and Marvels interviews Eva Stachniak 

Kris Waldherr: “It’s a wonderful read—Eva’s writing is tender, evocative, and immersive.”  Interview with Eva Stachniak.

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