"Astonish Me" is a family drama set against the high-stakes and vibrant world of professional ballet during the Cold War. Following a collection of characters from New York to Paris, California to Russia during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the story centers on the shelf life of artistic ambition. We talk with author Maggie Shipstead about her second novel, writing what you don't know and the value of solitude.
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Excerpted from "Astonish Me" by Maggie Shipstead. Copyright © 2014 by Maggie Shipstead. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.