We learn more about little Estelle. When she is fourteen, her teacher Olga thinks she is good enough to spread her wings. So she arranges for her friend, Piers Cranley, to come and see Estelle dance. Piers has a ballet company and trains young girls. When Piers sees Estelle, he realises she has something special and offers her a place in her company. Piers also thinks that Estelle needs to change her name, and Olga comes up with Hester Fielding.
Hester is afraid because she knows that her aunt Rhoda won’t let her go with Piers. She is right. When Olga comes to talk to Rhoda, the latter thinks that ballet is not decent and Estelle is too young. Olga gets incensed and storms out of the house, but she promises Hester that they will get her father’s permission. Piers goes to see the man, and a few weeks later Olga runs to Hester’s house with a telegram from Piers. Hester’s father has agreed to let her go with Piers. So Rhoda has no other option. Then Hester learns that there is little money left from her grandmother’s legacy, and she gets angry with Rhoda as the girl realises that her aunt and uncle have stolen her money to buy a car. Rhoda also reproaches her that Estelle has never thanked her for taking her in as she has always thought that she was better. Yet, Estella muses that she never got an affection from her aunt, so why should she be thankful? A week later Hester is all ready to go; Olga is going to help her financially as she regards Hester as her heiress, so she is going to sell some of the jewels men have given her over the years to fiance Hester’s career. That is so good of her.
In 1986 we get to know some of the characters who are to take part in the festival Hester organises in winter. There is Claudia Drake, a very famous dancer, who is quite conceited and selfish. She has been having an affair with the choreographer Hugo Carradine for two years, but now the relationship is cooling down. Claudia doesn’t care about her love life so much, but she is worried that Hugo could replace her for someone younger. Claudia thinks she loves Hugo, but we learn that she has been unfaithful to Hugo. ON his part, Hugo was besotted with Claudia when they started, but now he doesn’t even know if he loves her. In these two years he has got to know the real Claudia, who can be quite unbearable and terrible.
Claudia has a daughter, Alison, by her first marriage. Her ex-husband left her for someone else and lives in America. Whenever Alison mentions her father, Claudia is vile and badmouths him. Claudia hasn’t been a good mother, and Alison, who is fourteen, wishes she had a normal mum and dad. Unlike her mother, who is a real beauty, Alison is quite different, bespectacled and a bit overweight.
The last character is Silver, a very young ballerina, who is also in the show in Wychwood. Silver is the threat that Claudia fears for her career.
I thought the book was going to be more boring, but I am loving the parts of Hester in the past, and the new characters are very promising. I wonder how things will pan out in Wychwood House during the festival.