Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans – Audiobook Review

Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans, narrated by Kirsten Potter
Published in print by Random House, published in audio by Tantor Media


In Apollo’s Angels, Jennifer Homans tells the story of 400 years of ballet’s history, a history which, until now, has  been unwritten.

Thoughts on the story:

Ballet is ballet is ballet. Or so I thought, before reading Apollo’s Angels. I had no idea that there were national differences even today, or that political movements such as the French and Russian Revolutions were so expressed through the art of ballet. Weighing in at almost 700 pages in print and close to 24 hours in audio, Apollo’s Angels is certainly a commitment, but it is a pleasant one. Homan succeeds in writing a book which is informative about the history of ballet and the way that ballet serves as a mirror of social and political history, while at the same time is not overly technical. There were certainly passages here and there that lost me briefly talking about specific steps, but even though I have not taken ballet since I was five years old, I was never lost for long, and was engaged enough to stick through those technical sections to return to the history.

The one place Homan did lose me was at the very end, in which she makes an argument for the disappearance of ballet in the near future which does not seem to be hinted at or backed up in any way by the 600 odd pages that precede it. Still, though, it was a very short passage in comparison with the rest of the book, and was not enough to permanently leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Kirsten Potter did an absolutely lovely job narrating Apollo’s Angels, the casting was really just perfect for the book. For my full thoughts on the audio, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine.


I was more interested in Apollo’s Angels for the social and cultural history than for the ballet itself, but ballet was a fascinating way to impart this history. I think this would work well in print or audio, although I don’t think I’d have done as well with it in print, as I would likely have gotten bogged down in the technicalities of dance. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

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Source: Audiofile Magazine.
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6 comments to Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans – Audiobook Review

  • Oooh, I don’t know. Ballet? I’d have to totally trust you on this one, because ballet is not on my radar! And I have such other wonderful things loaded, like…Warm Bodies! The Last Werewolf! Life! So much fun awaiting me…

  • I was a dancer for many years, although ballet was my least favorite form. Still, I think I would find this book interesting!

  • This sounds marvelous — I’m not a ballet dancer but I do love novels about ballet and have really enjoyed a few documentaries on famous dancers. I’m totally going to have to get this!

  • Amy

    I’m a big fan of ballet although I haven’t been to a performance in a few years. The social and political aspects of ballet sound especially fascinating. I know for the dancers there’s little else in their worlds except ballet but the fact that ballet has a whole history which reflects what was going on in society at the time is really interesting.

    Although I love ballet, I never thought about reading/listening to a book about it’s history…but I sure am now. Thank you for a great review, Jen!

  • OK, I’m really intrigued by this! My daughter is very into dance, although not ballet as much, and that has upped my interest as well.

    I’m glad to know it works as an audiobook, I would have wondered about that. I wonder if the book has any visuals that are missing in the audio?

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