Reviews and reactions

“When the don met the dancer – this is the story of how Maynard Keynes, the great economist, fell for Lydia Lopokova, celebrity ballerina and Russian émigrée. And it is also a story of resistances, when a different kind of woman stepped into the settled world of Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, and all the rest of their English entourage. In Firebird, Susan Sellers restages the bright Bloomsbury years of the early 1920s as they have never been seen before.” RACHEL BOWLBY, author of Virginia Woolf and Fellow of the British Academy

“To read Susan Sellers’ wonderfully evocative novel is to be immersed in the cultural milieu of the Ballets Russes and Bloomsbury, informed and entertained in equal measure. Central character Lydia Lopokova is a marvellously sparky creation, maddening and original, who springs to life on the page as she stirs up and provokes Bloomsbury. Firebird is also a love story, charting the utterly unlikely relationship between Lydia and Maynard Keynes. It’s moving, amusing, brilliantly researched and utterly absorbing. A damn good read!” LESLEY GLAISTER, award-winning novelist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

Firebird is a sensational love story of two fascinating people – Lydia Lokopova the star of the Russian ballet and John Maynard Keynes the famous economist. Think Natasha Rostova in War and Peace crossed with Emma from One Day. We travel, dazzled, between Imperial St Petersburg, Paris, the US, Madrid, to Bloomsbury, London. Lydia’s enchanting, hilarious conversations (Maynard is her ‘speaking book’, the ‘big walk’ of her life) match her impulsive gestures – climbing inside a hotel refrigerator to keep cool. A woman who likes two steaks placed on top of each other to leave room for potatoes and so full of life you will fall in love with her as quickly as Keynes. Susan Sellers is a true artist capturing scene after scene in such perfect colour that she could be a Bloomsbury painter. I could not put Firebird down!” MAGGIE HUMM, author of Snapshots of Bloomsbury and Talland House


Geneviève Simon in Arts Libre:

Susan Sellers traces with finesse the story of this unlikely marriage, which causes sparks to fly in Bloomsbury.

“In retracing the surprising love story between the brilliant thinker and artist who, at the age of ten, danced ‘The Nutcracker’ for Tsar Nicholas II, Susan Sellers skillfully draws attention to the paradoxes that ignite the Bloomsbury group, champions of liberty, casting them in a new light. (….)

Susan Sellers (…) draws on a novelist’s sensibility as well as her scholarly knowledge to explore what is at stake for Bloomsbury. As a result, she weaves a canvas that is both rich and convincing, allowing us entry to an iconic place and time. Her lively writing style, her sense of scene, her canny way of moving across time, the wicked evenhandedness with which she describes pettiness without lingering on it: Firebird is impossible to put down.”

Pascale Fauriaux in L’Écho Républican:

“The fabulous tale of an unlikely marriage.”

Stéphane Bret in La Cause Littéraire:

Firebird takes us into the secret world of the Bloomsbury Group and history of Russian dance shortly before the shock-waves of the October Revolution. Literary and artistic references abound and the reader learns a great deal, all the while enjoying this X-ray analysis of human emotion and desire. Totally recommended.”

Virginia Bloch-Lainé in Libération:

“After Vanessa and Virginia, a novel translated into sixteen languages (…) Susan Sellers broadens her focus beyond Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury Group to add Diaghilev, Russia, Paris, Picasso, his first wife the dancer Olga Khokhlova, Spain, St Petersburg, the growing renown of Charlie Chaplin (…) to create a wide-ranging, enjoyable, elegantly drawn canvas.”

Claudine Colozzi in Danses avec la plume:

“This whirlwind of a novel, which lifts the curtain on the love affair between star dancer of the Ballets Russes Lydia Lopokova and the famous economist Maynard Keynes (…) is one to slip into your suitcase this summer. (….)

Brimming with a wealth of characters, Firebird’ pays long overdue homage to the star dancer (….) Muse to Diaghilev, partner to Nijinsky, friend of Stravinsky and Picasso who painted her, Lydia has waited a long time for a beautiful novel to shed light on her incredible life.”