The lush, sweeping story of a remarkable dancer who charts her own course through the tumultuous years of early twentieth-century Europe. Beautifully blending fiction with fact, The Chosen Maiden plunges readers into an artistic world upended by modernity, immersing them in the experiences of the era's giants, from Anna Pavlova and Serge Diaghilev to Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso.
From their earliest days, the Nijinsky siblings appear 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 provocative, dancer of his time. 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.
The real-life muse behind one of the most spectacular roles in dance, The Rite of Spring's Chosen Maiden, Bronia rises to the heights of modern ballet through grit, resilience and fervor. But when the First World War erupts and rebellion sparks in Russia, Bronia—caught between old and new, traditional and ground-breaking, safe and passionate—must begin her own search for what it means to be modern.
EVA STACHNIAK was born in Wroclaw, Poland. She came to Canada in 1981 and has worked for Radio Canada International and Sheridan College, where she taught English and Humanities. She is the bestselling author of The Winter Palace, Empress of the Night, Necessary Lies and Garden of Venus. She lives in Toronto.
"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." —Toronto Star
"[Stachniak] exquisitely blends fiction with fact in this novel about the remarkable ballet dancers Vaslav and Bronia Nijinsky. . . [and] 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." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Carefully researched and capaciously imagined. . . . More than just an absorbing historical account of an avant-garde artist, The Chosen Maiden is a fully-realized tale of family, love, loss and enduring resilience." —Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls
"Many works of fiction take as their inspiration true events and persons of historical significance, but few do so as lovingly and imaginatively. . . . The Chosen Maiden delves into the workings of an artist's mind and reveals the resiliency of art in a time of worldwide political upheaval and war. . . . A remarkable work of historical fiction." —Quill & Quire
"Exquisite. . . . Dance fans will welcome this graceful and entrancing foray into the recent past." —Library Journal
"Reading The Chosen Maiden is like entering Aladdin's Cave, where a vivid, strange and enchanting world awaits. 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, author of Oh, My Darling and Radiance
"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-Gwyn, author of The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca
"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 and prima ballerina