The touching true story of a young girl's journey from the Blitz to the Bright Lights
A unique memoir about ballet, the war and a peerless generation of dancers
London during the Blitz was a time of hardship, heroism and hope.
For Gillian Lynne – a budding ballerina – it was also a time of great change as she was evacuated from war-torn London to a crumbling mansion, where dance classes took place in the faded ballroom.
Life was hard, but her talent and dedication shone through and an astonishing journey ensued, which saw Gillian dancing a triumphant debut in Swan Lake, performing in the West End with doodlebugs falling and touring a devastated Europe entertaining the troops.
A Dancer in Wartime paints a vivid and moving picture of what life was really like during the hard years of the Blitz and brings to life a lost world.
“Gillian's journey through dance is a story of passion and devotion that should be read by everyone, not just dance lovers”
“A beautiful tale of heartbreak, talent, determination and star quality”
“Wonderfully nostalgic and magical”
“A charming and affecting memoir”
Sunday Express, Books of the Year
“An extraordinary tale”
Sarah Crompton, Daily Telegraph
“From the Blitz to Sadler's Wells, this is a charming portrait of passion and dedication, set against the difficulties of war”
Woman & Home
“A captivating story beautifully told ... and what an inspiration for anyone who dreams of a life on the stage”
“Dance historians will be as charmed by this sidelight on dance as ambitious girls will be inspired by Lynne's description of the dancer's life as an amalgam of "the Impossible and the Spiritual all wrapped up with a ribbon of passion”
Iain Finlayson, The Times
“Sincere and unpretentious... She paints [...] a picture of austerity Britain in which ballet was a supremely glamorous career path.”
Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review
“A charming and moving portrait of a wartime childhood and an extraordinary account of what it takes to make it on stage ... I couldn't put it down”
“An intriguing and moving account of a young girl's balletic ambitions during wartime. Wonderfully readable, spirited and honest”
“I loved this book ... her energy, enthusiasm and passion are present in every line, and her commitment to the theatre and her determination to excel make for a fascinating and thoroughly absorbing read.”
Dame Monica Mason, Director of the Royal Ballet
“This is a remarkable book which I read overnight. It's gripping, touching, eye-opening and pitch perfect about a period of time almost lost from view. Gillian Lynne's tenacity's palpable from the outset. Definitely one to savour and treasure.”
“In A Dancer in Wartime, Gillian Lynne canters through her amazing experiences like the thoroughbred she is”
Sir Ian McKellen
“A warm, affectionate portrait of the ballet world, and of success tinged with sadness”
Sally Morris, Daily Mail