Ballet for Laura (by Linda Blake)

'Ballet for Laura' was written by Linda Blake, an author whom I can't find anywhere online to give a link. I doubt if many people will remember her, or the books she wrote. This one is a somewhat obscure book from the late 1960s, well out of print now, although it can sometimes be found second-hand.

Indeed, I wasn't even aware that this book existed for many years. I was given a copy of the sequel ('Laura's Summer Ballet') when I was twelve, and had a feeling there should have been a previous book but it wasn't until much later - perhaps ten years ago - that I spotted it in a second-hand shop.

Recently it came out here with our sea-freight. Wanting a light read last night, I picked this out. I had probably only read it once before this, so I had very little memory of the plot.

I suppose the book is rather in the Noel Streatfeild style. Laura, an orphan, is given a scholarship to a ballet school where she makes friends and also enemies. In a way it's more a school story than a character-driven book like Streatfeild's, but I still found it enjoyable. Laura is a likeable girl, totally driven by ballet but quiet and shy. She seems entirely unaware that she has the potential for great ability.

So there are fairly typical school dramas, ups and downs, and an exciting climax where a girl who dislikes Laura attempts to destroy a great opportunity for her. There are also threads about other people in the ballet school, including the rather saturnine Scott, one of the seniors. He isn't much liked by his peers and is suspected of defacing a valuable statue some months previously. He meets Laura on her first day at the school and despite her shyness, they seem to understand each other well, and she believes in him.

I thought the book very readable. Of course it's intended for girls of about 10-14, so it's not particularly deep or difficult. I suspect that these days many teens would find it beneath them, or rather stereotyped (Laura's enemy is wealthy and snooty as well as a brilliant dancer) but a confident reader of 8-11 would probably enjoy it, particularly those who like ballet. I don't see why boys shouldn't like it too, since there are boys in the story, but inevitably it will appeal more to girls.

This book only has 150 pages and I finished it in a couple of hours, then rushed to find the sequel to read straight afterwards...!

You can also read my slightly longer review of 'Ballet for Laura', written after re-reading nine years later.


Anne said...

I read these two books when I was about 13 or 14 (in teh 1980s). I absolutely fell in love with them and having read and re-read them I still remember both the books!

Bron said...

Hi Sue :)
After looking for "Ballet for Laura" for about Twenty years I finally found a copy and have just finished reading it. I still have my copy of "Laura's Summer Ballet" and like an old friend I visit her again and again. I had hoped to find more Linda Blake books and more about her online but apart from copies of her books all I have found is your reviews. Thank you for your reviews on Laura.

Kerry said...

Thanks for your review! I read Ballet for Laura when I was 12, and absolutely loved it! I had no idea until reading your review that there's a sequel. I would love to get my hands on a copy. I've searched everywhere online for an ebook link, but sadly haven't come across any.

Jennifer said...


Add me as a fan of the Laura ballet books.

When I was about 10 a cousin had the novels and loaned them to me. I wasn't into ballet back then, but read them and enjoyed them so much. 25 years later I still remember these lovely books and am searching on line to find any copies for sale or e-copies, because I'd love to read them again for nostalgia sake. Thanks for your review!

Tarryn said...

I have "Ballet for Laura" - I still love it. First read it when I was about 12, but I re-read it every couple of years. I would love to get my hands on the sequel; I look for it in every second-hand bookshop! Thanks for your reviews, it's good to know there are other people who've read the books out there!

Sue said...

Looks like Amazon UK have a few editions at reasonable price currently (December 2010). I've put a new link to a version that has four available, and there are others on Amazon. Worth checking abebooks.co.uk as well, or of course ebay.

Anonymous said...

I'm 15 and I read this book in 2012 and I still adore it. This is one of those books that never seems to age.

Anonymous said...

I read Ballet For Laura when I was 12.. I never knew there was another book, although I did try looking about 20 years ago. It's one of my all time favourites