Friday, February 15, 2013

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

by:  Cathy Marie Buchanan
published by:  Penguin
publish date:  January 10, 2013

A gripping novel set in Belle Époque Paris and inspired by the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and a notorious criminal trial of the era.

When the father of Marie and Antoinette van Goethem died it left their family in a serious financial bind.  In 1870s Paris there weren't too many options for the two sisters along with their absinthe addicted mother and their little sister.  It was decided that Marie, while traditionally too old, would go to the ballet with their younger sister Charlotte where they would both earn a wage.  Antoinette would go to the theater as an actress.

These decisions would lead to diverging paths for the two sisters.  Marie would reach great and unexpected levels of success and Antoinette would sink lower than anyone thought she could. 

At first I was kinda iffy about this book.  I listened to the audiobook and I had trouble with all the french names and words sprinkled throughout.  It was hard to distinguish one from the other I guess and keep them all straight in my head.  However, over time that became less of an issue and the story really captivated me.  I really enjoyed this book.  After I got done, I looked up the work of Degas and started to really examine the subjects and see if I could recognize any of the characters in the artwork. I know that's silly, but it was a fun little exercise. 

I definitely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.  Even if you aren't this book was still very well researched and was a fascinating read.

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