Born on the road to dancer parents, the Nijinsky siblings are destined for the stage. Bronia is a gifted young ballerina, but she is quickly eclipsed by her brother Vaslav. Deemed a prodigy, Vaslav Nijinsky will grow into the greatest, and most incendiary, dancer of the early 20th century. To prove herself her brother’s equal in the rigid world of ballet, Bronia will need to be more than extraordinary, defying society’s expectations of what a female dancer can and should be.
Her mesmerizing talent and stunning discipline will eventually take her to the heights of Russian ballet: the prestigious, old-world Mariinsky Theatre and modern Ballets Russes. But as the First World War rages and revolution sparks in Russia, Bronia must chart her own course in the battle between old and new, traditional and ground-breaking, safe and passionate.
Based on true events, The Chosen Maiden will sweep readers from St. Petersburg and Kiev to London and Paris and plunge them into the riotous world of modern art. Against the fascinating and tragic backdrop of early 20th century Europe, and surrounded by legends like Anna Pavlova, Coco Chanel, Serge Diaghilev and Igor Stravinsky, Bronia, fortified by grit and resilience that comes from ardent passion, must fight for her own place in a world that only wishes to see her fall.
Reading The Chosen Maiden is like entering Aladdin’s Cave, where a vivid, strange and enchanting world awaits. This is the world Stachniak paints of the Ballets Russes, replete with firebirds and fauns, love affairs and bitter artistic rivalries. Most of all, it is the thrilling world of the Great Nijinsky and his passionate and unforgettable sister Bronia, whose discipline and talent rival her famous brother’s, but whose greatest genius may be her will to survive. Spanning two world wars and the Russian Revolution, Eva Stachniak’s sumptuous and evocative dance of the Chosen Maiden is the dance of 20th century history.
– Shaena Lambert is the author of Oh, My Darling and Radiance.
Carefully researched and capaciously imagined, Stachniak’s new novel tells the story of Bronia Nijinska, a gifted dancer and choreographer oftentimes overshadowed by her prodigy brother Vaslav Nijinsky. More than just an absorbing historical account of an avant-garde artist, The Chosen Maiden is a fully-realised tale of family, love, loss, and enduring resilience.
-Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls.
Eva Stachniak is every bit as good at invoking Imperial Russia as Hilary Mantel is in conjuring up the Tudor Era in England.
-Carol Bishop – author of The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca.