The Painted Girls

Buchanan, Cathy Marie

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Painted Girls
In belle époque Paris, the Van Goethem sisters struggle for survival after the sudden death of their father, a situation that prompts young Marie's ballet training and her introduction to a genius painter.

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2013.
ISBN: 1594486247
Characteristics: 357 p. ;,24 cm.


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May 29, 2014

looking forward to reading this a second time.

Feb 04, 2014
  • DanglingConversations rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book is well written, has some brilliant insight into live in poverty stricken Paris. I will never look at a Degus painting with the same eyes. However the author falls short of genius. Why could she not have made this an epic, more complex charachter development and more detail about why some of those minor characters made those choices. Who were those ballet teachers? What were those nuns doing for fallen women. More background about the drama in the laundry and more about the life and struggles of some of the other ballerinas. If the author had taken another year to write this book it could have become a classic instead of a great read.

Dec 08, 2013
  • Kaytee33 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very memorable story of two sisters. A bit sad though - I had to take breaks when things got bad for the girls.

Sep 26, 2013
  • bshokal rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Interesting story that gives insight into the social views and conditions in Paris in the late 1880s. Few choices for the working class and even fewer for women. No insight offered on the life of Degus whose famous paintings and sculptures reflected the views that facial features and skull structure could identify criminals - a view put forward by Lombroso. However, more interesting is the story of two sisters and their struggles with poverty and alcoholism.

Sep 11, 2013
  • WormsBookChief rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Really enjoyed this book, felt I learned about some of the history of Paris at the time, about Degas, and was riveted by the relationship of the sisters and how they each responded to challenge and change.

Sep 04, 2013
  • goofy rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A story of the relationship of sisters against the backdrop of 19th century Paris where Degas works of art are brought to life in this novel,

Aug 21, 2013
  • siammarino rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Great historical fiction describing the dancers painted by Degas, and the trials they faced hoping to escape from poverty by joining the Opera. I will look at Degas' art with a new insight in to his subjects and a new appreciation for ballet.

Aug 04, 2013
  • retrouth rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A wonderful read. An excellent choice for any woman with a sister, and anyone who appreciates Degas' works of art. This book has the ring of authenticity for the times (late 1800's in Paris).

Jul 15, 2013
  • JeanneQ rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I greatly enjoyed this book. It was a wonderful insight into life for the lower classes in Belle Epoque Paris. I have always admired the work of Edgar Degas, a brilliant artist but a man flawed with prejudice. I had no idea that many of his most famous pieces, especially his famous bronze, " Little Dancer of Fourteen Years" , as well as "Dancer Resting" and "Dancer with a Fan" were based on an actual young dancer in the Paris Opera Ballet school named Marie Van Goethem.
Cathy Marie Buchanan does a wonderful job of embellishing the details of the life of Marie and her sisters and their struggles with poverty, a dead father and a mother addicted to Absinthe, the scourge of the working and artistic classes of Paris at the turn of the last century. She beautifully illustrates their work and their follies to rise above it all and become dancers or simply to find love.
The author gives great detail about ballet technique and the incredible dedication it takes to become a dancer. It can be a bit of a heartbreaker, but well worth the read.

Jun 28, 2013
  • luv2read_3 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book, but didn't realize initially it is based on the lives of a real family. My next task is to look up the paintings and sculpture of Degas which form part of this interesting story!

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