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The Painted Girls: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 369 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
I wasn't a big fan of Cathy Marie Buchanan's previous novel, so I approached The Painted Girls with some trepidation. I mean, her writing was sound - but the subject matter in her previous book left me a little, well, bored. That did not happen with The Painted Girls.
Told from two viewpoints, sisters Antoinette and Marie, this is the story of a family who has lost its father, the mother is a drunkard, the oldest sister a foolish girl and the younger one struggling to find her footing. There is a third sister, Charlotte, but she does not receive much of a voice in this story.
Also making an appearance in this book is the painter, Degas, and Buchanan references quite a few of his famous pieces of art to give the story setting and context.
I found The Painted Girls to be a heart-breaking, beautiful story and I walked away feeling like I'd read something that wasn't only interesting, but educational and enriching as well. Buchanan has redeemed herself in my eyes with this subject matter and I'm anxiously awaiting her next project.
The book is beautifully rendered. Nineteenth century Parisian ballet is painted with lyrical prose. "Each step must be given a particular character, your hallmark as a dancer." The focus here is not on the rich and the glitter, but rather on the difficulties and challenges of the poor during this period of cultural and societal change. Much is here for lovers of dance, art and sculpture. The author's love for ballet spills over the pages even in descriptions that hint at dance. "...dipping only her toe into sleep." The corridors the book explores are the darker side of ballet, the artwork of Degas, and the survival skills of two sisters thrown into desperate situations.
The Author's Note tells us that The Painted Girls is based on the early lives of three van Goethem sisters: Antoinette, Marie and Charlotte. After their father's death, Marie and Charlotte are accepted into the dance school of the Paris Opera. The eldest sister, Antoinette, already employed there as an extra, Marie models for Degas as he sculpts Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. (Google an image of this sculpture for a better understanding of the plot and the statement Degas made in his sculpture.) Antoinette makes difficult choices between honest work and dangerous love. The book contains some salacious scenes used to depict the depravity of young Parisian girls used in beastly manners by men.
I thank LibraryThing for providing an ARC of The Painted Girls for my unbiased review.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
Three sisters, each one striving for something. Antoinette wants to be adored. Marie wants to take care of her family. Charlotte wants to be successful. And yet, they all become whores. One is a whore to love. One is a whore because in the end, despite all she does, she's left with nothing else. One is a whore in order to succeed, and in the end it's utterly sad.
Though very true to the era it's penned about, I had a hard time with Antoinette's story. She was just terribly dumb in my eyes. The truth was in front of her face so much...but it's amazing what a girl will do to have a man's approval. This book really makes you think of that.
Marie, the trial, the guilt she felt for the decision she made...very gripping.
Vivid. Realistic, sad, and wrenching. This is the kind of book you pick up when you wish to time travel. But it is full of heartache. In the middle, my mind began straying and at times the book lost my interest as it got repetitive, but it hooked me again towards the end.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Cathie Buchanan recreates the world of degas Ballet 'rats' in a realistic and memorable way. I thoroughly enjoyed this bookPublished 3 days ago by Murgatroyd
Enjoyable book....as in so many novels, you can see the characters go down the wrong path and want to shake them...but to no avail. Read morePublished 3 days ago by PugPeople
Interesting book of poorer class girls and women in 19th Century Paris. Very well done, very interesting. Makes you feel like you are there.Published 11 days ago by Diane
I love historical fiction, mostly books about WWII era. This book is not what I usually read in the historical fiction genre. I thought it was very interesting. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Hannah
Maybe it is just not my taste. I found the story interesting, but sometimes felt as if it could have-or should have - been told with about half as many words and details. Read morePublished 26 days ago by L. McCall
Enjoyed the book, entertaining read. Makes me thankful to be living in this Century.Published 1 month ago by Penny Ulmer
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