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They're Going to Love You

Review

They're Going to Love You

I've always been in awe of people who can convincingly, even eloquently, write criticism or fiction about other art forms, such as visual art, music or dance. In her latest novel, THEY'RE GOING TO LOVE YOU, former dancer Meg Howrey demonstrates that she's more than capable of writing with knowledge and emotion about both the movements of dance and (to me at least) the bafflingly opaque process of choreography, all within the context of a heartbreaking story of family love, betrayal and loss.

The novel's protagonist is Carlisle Martin, who is in her mid-40s and is a well-respected choreographer living in Los Angeles. She's juggling two complicated pieces of news. First, she's just been offered a prestigious commission to choreograph a new ballet to the music of Stravinsky's The Firebird. She's never particularly liked the music, but she knows this is perhaps the opportunity of a lifetime. And second, she's just learned that her father, Robert, is dying.

"Meg Howrey demonstrates that she's more than capable of writing with knowledge and emotion about both the movements of dance and (to me at least) the bafflingly opaque process of choreography..."

Carlisle finds out this last bit of news from her father's husband, James, a charismatic, handsome former dancer and choreographer with whom she herself has a long and tortuous history, which unfolds in the narrative gradually. Her mother, Robert's ex-wife, Isabel, was once a Balanchine dancer, but she never rose out of the corps de ballet and stopped dancing professionally after she had Carlisle. When Carlisle was still very young, Robert and Isabel divorced after Robert and James fell in love.

Carlisle's annual trips to New York City to spend a week or two with Robert and James at their beautiful Greenwich Village brownstone defined her growing-up years and opened her eyes to a new community, one that was increasingly devastated by the AIDS epidemic in those years. She longed for even more time in this glamorous, art-imbued environment, and leveraged her own ballet training to give her more opportunities to spend with Robert and James.

But as Carlisle grew into adulthood, her realizations about their relationship grew more complicated as well, culminating in one horrible summer when she committed a series of betrayals from which the relationship has never recovered. Now, 19 years later, she braces herself for a return to the place and people she was once so close to, knowing that doing so will dredge up feelings and concerns she has tried to keep buried for so long.

Carlisle's story unfolds in parallel chronologies --- one in the present day, as she prepares to visit her father one last time while also wrapping her head around the Firebird commission, and one that drops into moments from her childhood and young adulthood that have shaped where she is today. Along the way, readers see how art informs life and vice versa, how --- through art --- pain, disloyalty and sadness can be transformed.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on November 18, 2022

They're Going to Love You
by Meg Howrey

  • Publication Date: November 15, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 038554877X
  • ISBN-13: 9780385548779