Three Muses

- Martha Anne Toll

Goodreads Book Blurb:

In post-WWII New York, John Curtin suffers lasting damage from having been forced to sing for the concentration camp kommandant who murdered his family. John trains to be a psychiatrist, struggling to wrest his life from his terror of music and his past.

Katya Symanova climbs the arduous path to Prima Ballerina of the New York State Ballet, becoming enmeshed in an abusive relationship with her choreographer, who makes Katya a star but controls her life.

When John receives a ticket to attend a ballet featuring Katya Symanova, a spell is cast. As John and Katya follow circuitous paths to one another, fear and promise rise in equal measure.

Three muses—Song, Discipline, and Memory—weave their way through love and loss, heartbreak and triumph to leave readers of this prize-winning debut breathless.


My Review:

***Thanks to NetGalley and Regal Publishing for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.

solid, good read:
Katya and John’s stories dance throughout each other’s timelines to create an incredibly unique narrative in Three Muses. Exploring horrific, soul-shattering grief from the kind of tragedy that feels impossible to survive and overcome, every concept, from dance to music to psychiatry, plays a role in teasing out their stories.

Katya’s relationship with Mr Y is very difficult to overcome. It’s worrying that, even though this is set primarily through the mid-’40s to mid-’60s, no one ever tries to address the obvious grooming. Though nothing happens until Katya is of age, their ‘working’ relationship is never appropriate. With the imbalance of power and Katya’s hero worship, her vulnerability is easy to manipulate. Besides this, the rest of Three Muses is wonderful.

A strange banker, he was, dealing in the peculiar coinage of patients' memories. There was both burden and benefit in managing that depository.

I enjoyed that the theme is repeated and replicated often, but with such a subtle touch that you have to be paying attention. Katya’s artistry is tempered so well with John’s science, their personal griefs may not be equal in magnitude, but they hold space for each other with respect and almost awe. My favourite part of their relationship is how much they appreciate their differences and are willing to learn from one another. There’s something so precious about how they interact with each other, making their relationship feel light despite the depth it contains.

There are parts I love about Three Muses that can get lost or overshadowed. While the narrative lost its way a few times, there are some beautiful, thoughtful pearls here that make it well worth the read.

John remembered his family; he would always remember them. He was the guardian of their memory. The agonizing past; the crowded, aching present; the vast uncertain proliferating future; the collapsing, imploding, chaotic spectrum of time unleashed by tragedy. Without John - son and brother, brother and son - his family were dust motes swirling in history's cyclone.
He would remember.

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