"Jane Hamilton has removed all doubt that she belongs among the major writers of our time." --San Francisco Chronicle Set in Jane Hamilton's signature Midwest,The Short History of a Princeis the story of Walter McCloud and his ambition to become a great ballet dancer. With compassion and humor, and alternating between Walter's adolescent and adult voices, the novel tells of Walter's heartbreak as he realizes that his passion cannot make up for the innate talent that he lacks. Introduced as a child to the genius of Balanchine and the lyricism of Tchaikovsky by his stern but cultured aunt Sue Rawson, Walter has dreamed of growing up to shine in the role of the Prince in The Nutcracker. But as Walter struggles with the limits of his own talent and faces the knowledge that Mitch and Susan, his more gifted friends, have already surpassed him, Daniel, his older brother, awakens one morning with a strange lump on his neck that leads to fearful consequences--and to Walter's realization that a happy family, and a son's place in it, can tragically change overnight. The year that follows will in fact transform the lives not only of the McClouds but also of Susan, who becomes deeply involved with the sick Daniel, and Mitch, the handsome and supremely talented dancer with whom Walter is desperately in love. Into this absorbing narrative Hamilton weaves a place of almost mythical healing, the family's summer home at Lake Margaret, Wisconsin, where for generations the clan has gathered on both happy and unhappy occasions. Only a writer of Jane Hamilton's sensitivity and humanity could do justice to this moving story of the torments of sexuality and the redemptive power of family and friendship. This book confirms her place as a preeminent novelist of our time.