The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
A Novel

86%

8 Critic Reviews

Buchanan does a masterful job of interweaving historical figures into her plot, but it is the moving yet unsentimental portrait of family love, of two sisters struggling to survive with dignity, that makes this a must-read.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A heartrending, gripping novel about two sisters in Belle Époque Paris and the young woman forever immortalized as muse for Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.


1878 Paris. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir.

Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. There she meets a wealthy male patron of the ballet, but might the assistance he offers come with strings attached? Meanwhile Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde. 

Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.” In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation, if not survival, lies with the other.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Cathy Marie Buchanan

See more books from this Author
CATHY MARIE BUCHANAN is the author of The Day the Falls Stood Still, a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection. She lives in Toronto.
 
Published January 10, 2013 by Riverhead Books. 369 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 17 2013
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Critic reviews for The Painted Girls
All: 8 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Oct 30 2012

Buchanan does a masterful job of interweaving historical figures into her plot, but it is the moving yet unsentimental portrait of family love, of two sisters struggling to survive with dignity, that makes this a must-read.

Read Full Review of The Painted Girls: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Nov 05 2012

...Buchanan captures their story in this engrossing depiction of belle epoque Paris.

Read Full Review of The Painted Girls: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Linda Diebel on Feb 08 2013

Toronto author Cathy Marie Buchanan’s writing is so good that I rushed through this book for the kinship I felt with girls whose lives, except for ballet, were totally different than my own.

Read Full Review of The Painted Girls: A Novel | See more reviews from Toronto Star

The Washington Post

Excellent
on Jan 21 2013

Integrating three actual murderers with the three girls’ histories is another brilliant act of imagination that drives the novel, producing a compelling story of yearning for love in the face of ugliness and brutality.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Good
on Jan 24 2013

A clear-eyed and heartfelt accounting of the seamy side of that gilded age, Buchanan gives voice to the historic figure of Marie van Goethem, one of the ballet girls who obsessed painter Edgar Degas.

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Red Room

Above average
on Dec 19 2012

The book is beautifully rendered. Nineteenth century Parisian ballet is painted with lyrical prose.

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Shelf Awareness

Excellent
on Jan 03 2013

...the heart of the novel is the love between the two sisters, which forms the bedrock of their lives--and will become, in a convergence of tragic events, what is ultimately most at stake.

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Newstalk 1010

Good
on Jan 18 2013

She succeeds in putting readers in the middle of the dangers on the streets, the ambitions in the ballet studios, the imaginations in the artist workshops, and the injustice in the courtrooms of 19thcentury Paris.

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Reader Rating for The Painted Girls
72%

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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Terri McGinty 5 Sep 2013

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