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The Painted Girlsby Cathy Marie Buchanan
Synopses & Reviews
A heartrending, gripping novel about two sisters in Belle Époque Paris.
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.
"The struggle of three sisters in 19th-century Paris blossoms into the rich history of Marie van Goethem, model for Edgar Degas's controversial statue, Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, in Buchanan's new novel (after The Day the Falls Stood Still). When their father dies, teen sisters Antoinette, Marie, and Charlotte are left to fend for themselves, since their mother's meager wages often dissolve into absinthe. Knowing their best chance for advancement lies in the ballet, Antoinette, an extra at the OpÃ©ra, get her sisters auditions. Both are accepted as 'petit rats,' but to everyone's surprise, bookish Marie actually shows talent for dance, and pays for food and private lessons by modeling for the mysterious Edgar Degas. Meanwhile, Antoinette, who has been guardian to her sisters, begins a love affair with Ã‰mile Abadie, a young man of questionable character. As Marie's modeling for Degas leads to the interest of a patron of the ballet, Ã‰mile is arrested for the murder of a local tavern owner, driving a wedge between the devoted sisters. Though history loses track of Ã‰mile Abadie, implicated in three murders, and Marie Van Goethem after Degas's statuette is criticized as 'ugly' with the 'promise of every vice' on the girl's face, Buchanan captures their story in this engrossing depiction of belle epoque Paris. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME Entertainment. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Cathy Marie Buchanan is the author of the national bestseller The Day the Falls Stood Still, a Barnes and Noble Recommends selection and an Indie Next pick. She lives in Toronto.
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