Three Muses is a love story that enthralls: a tale of Holocaust survival venturing through memory, trauma, and identity, while raising the curtain on the unforgiving discipline of ballet. In post-WWII New York, John Curtin suffers lasting damage from having been forced to sing for the concentration camp kommandant who murdered his family. John trains to be a psychiatrist, struggling to wrest his life from his terror of music and his past. Katya Symanova climbs the arduous path to Prima Ballerina of the New York State Ballet, becoming enmeshed in an abusive relationship with her choreographer, who makes Katya a star but controls her life. When John receives a ticket to attend a ballet featuring Katya Symanova, a spell is cast. As John and Katya follow circuitous paths to one another, fear and promise rise in equal measure. Song, Discipline, and Memory weave their way through love and loss, heartbreak and triumph.
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Martha Anne Toll writes fiction, essays, and book reviews, and reads anything that’s not nailed down. Her debut novel, Three Muses, won the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction. Martha brings a long career in social justice to her work covering BIPOC and women writers. She is a book reviewer and author interviewer at NPR Books, the Washington Post, The Millions, and elsewhere; and publishes short fiction and essays in a wide variety of outlets.
Toll is in conversation with Michelle Brafman,the author of Bertrand Court: Stories and the novel Washing the Dead. She teaches fiction writing in the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program.
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Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics and Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books. Politics and Prose offers superior service, unusual book choices, and a haven for book lovers in the store and online.