Letters from Yelena

By Guy Mankowski

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Legend Press

Legend Press in an independent publishing company set-up in 2005 by then 25-year-old Tom Chalmers and has been shortlisted for numerous awards. Backed by an international sales, licensing and acquisitions network, it now publishes around 30 titles per year focused on literary, women's, historical and crime fiction.

Product Description


My letters to you, my darling Noah, will be maps, in which I hope I can be found. Yelena, a brilliant but flawed Ukrainian ballerina, comes to the UK to fulfil her dreams and dance in one of ballet's most prestigious roles: Giselle. While researching content for his new book, Yelena meets Noah, and here begins a journey of discovery. Life takes an unexpected turn, and the two write letters in which they try to provide a blueprint of their lives and find their way back to each other. But during this process, Yelena visits the darkest corners of her life and, before she knows it, her past begins to catch up with her in ways she can't control. A dark, intricate labyrinth, Letters from Yelena explores the depths of one woman's own inner torment, the extremes to which we can be taken, and whether or not there is a way out.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Multiple Formats
Imprint Legend Press
Publication Date 1 Oct 2012
SKU 9781909039100-grouped
Number of Pages 256

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Press Reviews

It's unusual to find a young male writer who can write with such sensitivity and maturity. Guy Mankowski's portrayal of the ballerina Yelena is wholly convincing, taking us inside her thoughts and feelings as she describes the course of her life, from harrowing childhood to professional success, punctuated with turbulent emotional crisis. This is clearly a writer of great talent. -- Dr. Andrew Crumey, Longlisted for The Man Booker Prize Letters from Yelena, is a fantastic literary achievement, instantly setting aside any concerns over a difficult second novel for this immensely talented north east author. Following on from his excellent debut, The Intimates, this novel is an intimate character study of a highly skilled, yet psychologically scarred ballerina, told in epistolary form. The epistolary form is often seen as a rather old-fashioned literary device, but here, Mankowski breathes new life into it, creating a captivating, engaging narrative which plucks at our heart-strings. It's clear that the novel has been excellently researched Mankowski was awarded a grant by the Arts Council to visit the world-famous ballet school in St Petersburg and, in his acknowledgements, he also states he has spent a great deal of time with dancers from a school in the north east of England but this is far more than simply an information-dump. There is a real, honest-to-goodness story here. And the way Mankowski tells it? Astounding. The characters are delicately described. The atmosphere created is tangible. The language pirhouettes, spins, soars: some of the imagery is simply brilliant. More: the comparisons between dancing and writing are great. -- Andrew Kirby I felt I was watching a ballet in a darkened theatre, unable to look away until the story had unfolded, so beautifully, before my eyes. From opening this book on Thursday I was unable to put it down until I had finished it. More than that, I was talking about it through dinner, and thinking about it too. It is wonderfully written, and I was fascinated by the world of the ballet. -- Ruth Dugdall I finished Letters from Yelena in two sittings. The mental and physical strain of the professional ballet artist is almost tangible. Mankowski creates a bleak and isolated landscape, where aspiration and ambition can be crushed under the sheer weight of their own internal pressure. 'Yelena' has more emotional and intellectual depth in a chapter than the entirety of The Black Swan. Instead it harks back to something like the visual masterpiece of The Red Shoes; romantic, dark, uncompromising, and beautiful. I defy any woman, and any dancer, to not see parts of themselves in Yelena. Exceptionally talented. Thank God you don't write crime/thrillers or I'd be bitter and jealous. -- Hanna Jameson, author and aspiring ballerina Unfolding through the letters between a Ukrainian dancer and her lover, the novel explores art and how people use it in their lives to complex and compelling effect.' - Attitude Magazine 'A beautifully written story with convincing characters and a good if sometimes heart-breaking plot. Overall, a great novel from Mankowski' - Novel Kicks 'This epistolary novel takes the always present fascination with the torments of ballet dancers and adds a romantic twist. Mankowski brings every bruises foot and strained limb to life.' - The Simple Things magazine 'From his time working at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg as well as having access to the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Guy Mankowski has written a truly wonderful epistolary novel. It has shades of The Red Shoes and The Black Swan, with its dark thematic intensity of child abuse leading the main protagonist Yelena into self-harming, and ultimately suffering mental health problems.

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