The Painted Girls: A Novel

The Painted Girls: A Novel

by Cathy Marie Buchanan
4.0 63

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The Painted Girls: A Novel by Cathy Marie Buchanan

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101603796
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/10/2013
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 74,266
File size: 906 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Cathy Marie Buchanan is the author of the national bestseller The Day the Falls Stood Still, a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection and an Indie Next pick. She lives in Toronto.

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The Painted Girls: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Painted Girls is a brilliantly written historical fiction set in Paris in the 1880's. A story about the lives of sisters trying to make their way through life under less than ideal circumstances. Do the girls have control over their destiny or is it fate that delegates their position in life? Intertwining the tale of the sisters' lives and true facts from historical documents, paintings, ballets, plays, sculpture, murder trials and more this notion is explored. A true page turner! This book filled with sister love and rivalry had me hooked from beginning to end. An utterly captivating read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm fascinated by ballet, so was intrigued with the idea of the book about the 'behind-the-scenes' story of Degas's sculpture of the little dancer. While rich in details, the book felt disjointed and the characters remained flat. I can't even call the characters 2-dimensional, because I didn't get any picture at all, as if there were no substance to Marie or to Antoinette. The relationship between Marie the little ballerina and Degas didn't even make it to a side-story in my mind, much to my disappointment. On the other hand, the book succeeded in depicting the incredible vulnerability of being female, poor, and young at that time. It made me shudder to imagine my own daughter growing up in Marie's or Antoinette's shoes. And the afterwards about the historical people and events that inspired this book was very interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cathy Marie Buchanan has made Degas' paintings come alive. The juxtaposition of the ugly, gritty backstage life of the Paris Theater life in the late 1800s with the beauty and grandeur of the stage creates a very full, rich world. I would love to have an illustrated version with all of the works of art alluded to.
merlin1951 More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in awhile. As said, a Must Read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not enjoy this book at all, unable to finish. Although the plot seemed interesting, the book in fact was rather tedious and boring. Kept on waiting for the story to " pick up", I had to force myself to continue reading it. I could not appreciate the language the author used to depict the story, Ifound it fustrating. I am in a bookclub with 6 other women, all of them agreed, and only one person finished the novel.
musiclistener More than 1 year ago
As a dancer, I was expecting more along the line of the dancing. The story line placed around the dancers was hard to take. The real facts revealed in the authors notes were very interesting and probably the best part.
The_Book_Goddess More than 1 year ago
Best book I have read in a long time. The reason I was drawn to the book was because of the connection to Degas and his paintings. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the girl who was made famous as the little ballerina. What I got was so much more than that...the book painted a vivid picture of what it was like to live in Paris in the late 1800's, the daily struggles to survive, the responsibilities that fell to mere children and provided an honest reflection on the Paris ballet. The book is also written extremely well, which is so important. This book easily could've been dry and flat but this book just came alive. I honestly had trouble putting it down and just couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out how these girls' lives would turn out. This should definitely be on a must-read list for this year!
elle17 More than 1 year ago
I really completely enjoyed this book. Historical facts combined with believable fiction make for an excellent read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this novel up on sale for about $2, an absolute steal. The description seemed interesting, so I was absolutely thrilled when it arrived, along with several other books I'd purchased. This was the first one out of the group I read, and it did not disappoint. I finished it in a day, because I simply couldn't put it down. The book wraps you up in it's story, and you feel that you are truly living in 1800's Paris, among the squalor and upward struggles these girls endure. The characters are rendered marvelously, so that they seem all the more real. Unlike the strict and defined traits most authors give their characters, these are young women of blurred lines. It does away with the imaginary world of clear lines most writers create, and immerses you in a world of gray. This book is a must have for readers who want to be laughing and left in tears, all within a few well-written chapters. Thank you, Ms Buchanan, for a masterpiece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time getting into this book as it was very slow moving. I think the characters were a bit shallow but they were children and it is a sad, depressing story.
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camilledimaio More than 1 year ago
To read is to learn, and to read is to be entertained. “The Painted Girls” by Cathy Marie Buchanan attempted to do both, and mostly hit the mark. The story details the lives of real life sisters Antoinette and Marie van Goethem, muses for the painter Edgar Degas at the Paris Opera House during the Belle Epoch. Their father is dead, their mother is an alcoholic, and the girls survive through a combination of dancing in the ballet, baking, sewing, modeling, and whoring. Two historic tales merge when the author Buchanan imaginatively fictionalizes a love affair between Antoinette and convicted murderer Emile Abadie. The book certainly took me in to the underbelly of a world of which I knew nothing, and I am always grateful for what I’ve learned. However, I felt that that the characters were always just a step away from the vibrancy that they could have had. For example, I was not drawn in to why Antoinette loved Emile. It was just supposed to be understood. I did not feel the girls’ exhaustion after rehearsals. I did not ache for their shame as they prostituted themselves. Everything was an almost feeling. I would have just liked to care a little more. Also missing was more information on their youngest sister, Charlotte, who actually went on to have the most successful career in the ballet. Having said that, it certainly kept me reading, and I enjoyed peeling back the curtain into the lives of the otherwise unknown dancers. One can only imagine how many other stories there are to tell.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finchfeeder More than 1 year ago
An excellent view into the lives of Paris' ballet dancers. This book inspired me to visit Palais Garnier in Paris last summer. I had to see where Marie danced ~ breathed and posed.
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Chris-An More than 1 year ago
The title and cover illustration promise Degas.  But in reality, this is not about Degas.  It is about the Parisienne ballet girls of the 1880s.  So for the first 150 or so pages, I was disappointed.  Just as I was about to put it down, the story of the sisters really kicked in and I was glad I finished the book.  The author's note explains the connect to Degas and I found the whole thing quite interesting.  But my gripe would be with an editor who did not caution about promising something you would not deliver.  A different title?  A different cover?  Perhaps calling it what Degas' famous art piece is called, "The Little Dancer" would have been a better title and would have tipped off the reader as to the real theme of the book.  But a good book nevertheless.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give this book a three star because I think it will be good to certain readers. I was surprised but I did not finish this book. For some reason good story or not, it was not an easy read to me. I love to enjoy myself when I read. The historical fiction and the sister's lives captured me somewhat in the beginning, so I am shocked I gave up but I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would definitely recommend! When you have viewed the paintings and statue your whole life it was so good to have a story to put with them. If you have been to Paris you will enjoy the references to the different landmarks. And if you haven't be sure to look up a map of Paris to get a feel for the city. I did love reading it very much.
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