The Master's Muse

In the tradition of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife comes an unforgettable novel based on the life of George Balanchine’s fifth wife, a star ballerina whose career was cut short after she contracted polio at age twenty-six.
Set against the backdrop of the fashionable, creative New York of the 1960s and ’70s, The Master’s Musetells the remarkable story of two artistic legends whose profound love and complicated relationship forever changed American cultural history.

Once author Varley O’Connor, the daughter of a polio survivor, came across the facts about Tanaquil (Tanny) Le Clercq, she could not get the story out of her mind. O’Connor dug deeper, reading countless articles and interviews and watching hundreds of hours of documentaries and New York City Ballet footage to capture Le Clercq’s essence. The result is an evocative, compelling portrayal of the seventeen-year marriage between George Balanchine—the ballet master credited with creating an American style of dance—and his final wife, Tanaquil Le Clercq.

“Graceful and penetrating…This passionate novel not only gives a glimpse into the ballet world of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, its eccentric characters bring the story to life.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is not a novel about victimization or the malevolence of genius but rather about the painful accommodations all of us make for the things and people we love. Thoughtful, tender, and quite gripping, even for readers unfamiliar with the historical events the author sensitively reimagines.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A brilliant novel in memoir form, The Master’s Muse is pure magic. As I read and was thoroughly absorbed by the writing, the remarkable characters, and the story, I simply could not believe this was a work of fiction, not an authentic memoir, expertly written. The Master’s Muse is a superb performance by Varley O’Connor. From one writer to another, my hat’s off.”—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife