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.
"Deeply moving and inventive . . . Buchanan's evocative portrait of 19th-century Paris brings to life its sights, sounds, and smells, along with the ballet hall where dancers hunger for a place in the corps. . . . But nothing is more real or gripping than the emotions of Marie and her older sister Antoinette. . . . Their tale is ultimately a tribute to the beauty of sisterly love."—People
“The ethereal ballerina from Degass famed sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen comes to life in this richly imagined novel. Amid the glamour of tutus and art emerges a surprisingly gritty story of survival in the gutters of Belle Epoque Paris.”—Entertainment Weekly
“In The Painted Girls, a historically based work of fiction rich with naturalistic details of late-19th-century Paris, Cathy Marie Buchanan paints the girls who spring from the page as vibrantly as a dancers leap across a stage. . . . A compelling story of yearning for love in the face of ugliness and brutality. Wheeling out of control, the two older girls descend from their pretty pirouettes to misery, their mutual affection torn apart for a time. Nevertheless, Buchanan makes us feel they are good at heart. The Painted Girls is a captivating story of fate, tarnished ambition and the ultimate triumph of sister-love.”—Susan Vreeland, The Washington Post
"In this compelling tale, we meet a fictionalized Marie Van Goethem (one of the young dancers who posed for Degas) and her sister, whose journeys out of the Paris slums evoke the light and the dark of the Belle Epoque."—Good Housekeeping
"Two impoverished sisters in Belle Epoque Paris enter the world of the ballet (Degas) and theater (Zola) but also face temptations that can lure young women in the demimonde."—USA Today
“In “The Painted Girls,” a carefully researched, deeply imagined historical novel…the Belle Époque comes to vibrant, often aching life.”—Chicago Tribune
"[Buchanan] treats her girls with far greater care than do their contemporaries, seeing worth in them despite their misjudgments and calamities.”—Christian Science Monitor
“Buchanan does more than just write about what she knows; that same verisimilitude wends through the whole book: the grinding poverty in which the sisters live, the interaction between them, the daily life of a Parisian all come to life in her capable hands.”—Huffington Post
"A dark valentine to Belle Epoque Paris."—Vogue
"Buchanan brings the unglamorous reality of the late 19th-century Parisian demimonde into stark relief while imagining the life of Marie Van Goethem, the actual model for the iconic Degas statue Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. . . . 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 (starred)
"Engrossing depiction of Belle Epoque Paris."—Publishers Weekly
"The Painted Girls is historical fiction at its finest, awash in period details of the Paris of Degas and Zola while remaining, at its heart, the poignant story of two sisters struggling to stay together even as they find themselves pulled toward different, and often misunderstood, dreams. Cathy Marie Buchanan also explores the uneasy relationship between artist and muse with both compassion and soul-searing honesty.”—Melanie Benjamin, author of Alice I Have Been and The Aviator's Wife
"Part mystery, part love story, The Painted Girls breathes heart and soul into a fascinating era of the City of Lights. One can't help but be drawn in by this compelling and lyrical tale of sister love and rivalry."—Heidi W. Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
“Beautiful and haunting. From the first page, I was swept up and enchanted.”—Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
“Will hold you enthralled as it spools out the vivid story of young sisters in late 19th century Paris struggling to transcend their lives of poverty through the magic of dance. I guarantee, you will never look at Edgar Degass immortal sculpture of the Little Dancer in quite the same way again.”—Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker
“If youve ever looked at a famed piece of art and wondered what the artist was thinking or who the subjects really were, you will be swept away by The Painted Girls. Wonderfully imagined and masterfully rendered, this story of 19th century Paris and life behind the scenes of its legendary Opera House will change the way you see the world of ballet, art and the lives it portrays.”—Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter
"Sisters, dance, art, ambition, and intrigue in late 1800s Paris. The Painted Girls offers the best of historical fiction: compelling characters brought backstage at lOpera and front and center in Degas studio. This one has 'book club favorite' written all over it."—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
"You'll love this robust, tender story of love, grief, and survival on Key West in the 1930s...Addictive."—Jenna Blum, New York Times
bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
and The Stormchasers
"Robuck's breathtaking alchemy is to put us inside the world of Hemingway and his wife Pauline." —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
"Richly realized...Readers will delight in the complex relationships and vivid setting."—Publishers Weekly
"I fell in love with Robuck's Hemingway and with the fiery Mariella Bennet, but what I loved most was the novel's message: that we can inspire each other to be better human beings." —Ann Napolitano, author of A Good Hard Look
"Evokes a setting of the greatest fascination...This is assured and richly enjoyable storytelling." —Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier's Wife
"Brings to vivid life the captivating and volatile world of a literary legend." —Kristina McMorris, author of Letters From Home and Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
"An inspiring story of heartache and renewal. Readers will be sure to enjoy this ode to a literary icon." —Sarah McCoy, bestselling author of The Baker's Daughter
"Colorful, atmospheric, and a pleasure to plunge into." —Joseph Wallace, author of Diamond Ruby
Praise for Mrs. Hemingway
***A Harpers Bazaar (UK) Best Book of 2014***
***A Stylist Magazine (UK) Best Book of 2014***
“Magnetic… assembles a satisfying puzzle of personalities, bringing each relationships beginning, end and overlap into vivid focus.”
—Leisl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
“Wood has given us a fascinating, astutely observed, gorgeously written account of the Hemingway wives and their charismatic, enigmatic, troubled and troublesome husband. This is a gem of a book.”
—Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
“Naomi Woods absorbing, illuminating novel offers fascinating portraits of four extraordinary women and the tortured literary genius who loved them. If you thought you knew all there was to know about Ernest Hemingways wives, their passions, and their heartbreak, think again.”
—Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincolns Dressmaker and Mrs. Lincolns Rival
“It takes an unusual skill to keep someone reading a story to which they think they already know the ending. But Mrs. Hemingway is so beautifully written, and evocative, that I could not put it down until the last page.”
—Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You
“With remarkable insight and boldness, Naomi Wood brilliantly takes on one of historys most remembered writers and the women who loved him. Obsessively readable, fascinating, and heartbreaking, Mrs. Hemingway captures a time and people in a style the legend himself would no doubt admire.”
—Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingways Girl
“Forget everything you thought you knew about Ernest Hemingways four wives. In a quartet of searing interlocked portraits, Naomi Wood brings vividly to life the real women who loved and lost the legendary charmer and great writer. Mrs. Hemingway is a luminous heartbreaking novel. Wood is a writer to watch.”
—Ellen Feldman, Orange Prize-shortlisted author of Lucy
“A detailed and deeply affecting account of the complex relationship between love and work.” —Ian Sansom, author of The Case of the Missing Books
“It's superb, everything about it - the sentences, details, dialogue, but also the architecture, the way it's built. It flirts with all thats already known, but the women feel real and fresh, and through their eyes so does Hemingway.”
—Andrew Cowan, author of Pig
“Luminous, intoxicating…A passionate novel based on real lives, full of betrayals and moments of heartbreaking intimacy as Wood gives four remarkable women star billing.”
—Marie Claire (UK)
"Readers who enjoyed Loving Frank and The Paris Wife will adore this ideal summer read. Seamlessly blending known facts with fiction, Mrs. Heminway is an absorbing, tender glimpse inside the lives of those in Hemingway's inner circle."
“Well researched . . . interesting . . . [and] cleverly done.”
—Literary Review (UK)
“Exquisitely written, the Mrs. Hemingways finally have their say in this beautiful novel.”
—Stylist Magazine (UK)
“A beautiful read and an amazing insight into the life of the man . . . superb.”
“Very occasionally, a piece of fiction based on facts is so good that I catch myself thinking: ‘Oh, so thats how it really was. Wood achieves this in this breathtakingly good look at the lives of Ernest Hemingways four wives . . . . Sublime.”
—The Bookseller (UK)
“Skillfully rendered and emotionally insightful.” — Publishers Weekly
“Vincent is a sensitive recorder of a mind’s movements as it shifts in and out of inspiration, and as it fights before submitting to despair.” — Carlene Bauer, New York Times Book Review
“Adeline is a moving . . . portrait of what it means to be brilliant and tormented. Understanding Woolf’s darkness is as difficult as understanding some of her work, but Vincent rises to the challenge, creating something beautiful in the process.” — City Journal
“Daring . . . [Vincent’s] psychological approach is intriguing.” — USA Today
“Readers in search of a crash course on the Bloomsbury circle and the machinations of Woolf’s fevered mind will appreciate Vincent’s attempts to illuminate both, but her dark portrait of Woolf’s agonizing journey through a life marked by psychic pain will hold the most appeal for those already familiar with this sad story of genius and madness.” — Kirkus Reviews
“[An] electrifyingly good novel . . . by a master of discomfort.” — New Statesman
“Norah Vincent’s new novel, Adeline, is a bold portrait of Virginia Woolf from her conception of To the Lighthouse in 1925 to her suicide in 1941 . . . The reader comes to understand Virginia’s complex artistic process and her lifelong struggle with mental illness.” — Historical Novel Society
“Adeline is an intimate portrait of a sister, a wife, a woman, and most importantly, an artist. In this vivid, deeply moving novel, Vincent brings us beyond the world of legend directly into the passions, the struggles, the ambitions, and finally the genius that is Virginia Woolf.”— Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals
“Adeline deftly walks the fine line between story and scholarship—an entirely fresh reading of Woolf’s work, brought alive by a writer of considerable imagination, insight, and skill.” — Marya Hornbacher, author of Wasted and Madness
“Spare, exacting, deeply imagined, Adeline brings us as close as we are likely to get to the secret negotiations that fed Woolf’s art.” — Kathleen Hill, author of Who Occupies This House
“Adeline is a singular feat of the creative imagination in which the reader is taken inside the consciousness of a major artist in a way that is both completely believable and commandingly compelling. It is wholly worthy of its great subject.” — Terry Teachout, author of Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
“She remembered when Hemingway had planted a banyan tree at his house and told her its parasitic roots were like human desire. At the time she’d thought it romantic. She hadn’t understood his warning.” In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match...and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway. When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarified world of lavish, celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation...even as straightforward Gavin Murray draws her back to what matters most. Will she cross an invisible line with the volatile Hemingway, or find a way to claim her own dreams? As a massive hurricane bears down on Key West, Mariella faces some harsh truths...and the possibility of losing everything she loves.
The Paris Wife
was only the beginning of the story . . .
Paula McLains New York Timesbestselling novel piqued readers interest about Ernest Hemingways romantic life. But Hadley was only one of four women married, in turn, to the legendary writer. Just as T.C. Boyles bestseller The Women completed the picture begun by Nancy Horans Loving Frank, Naomi Woods Mrs. Hemingway tells the story of how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous and dashing writer of his generation. As each wife struggles with his mistress for Ernests heart, and a place in his bed, each marriage slips from tenderness to treachery. Each Mrs. Hemingway thought it would last forever. Each one was wrong.
Told in four parts and populated with members of the fabled Lost Generation”including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott FitzgeraldMrs. Hemingway interweaves the love letters, diaries, and telegrams of four very different women into one spellbinding tale.
The Paris Wife
was only the beginning of the story . . .
A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
Paula McLains New York Timesbestselling novel piqued readers interest about Ernest Hemingways romantic life. But Hadley was only one of four women married, in turn, to the legendary writer. Just as T.C. Boyles bestseller The Women completed the picture begun by Nancy Horans Loving Frank, Naomi Woods Mrs. Hemingway tells the story of how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous and dashing writer of his generation. Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary: each Mrs. Hemingway thought their love would last forever; each one was wrong.
Told in four parts and based on real love letters and telegrams, Mrs. Hemingway reveals the explosive love triangles that wrecked each of Hemingway's marriages. Spanning 1920s bohemian Paris through 1960s Cold War America, populated with members of the fabled "Lost Generation," Mrs. Heminway is a riveting tale of passion, love, and heartbreak.
From a New York Times best-selling author, a boldly imagined portrait of Virginia Woolf that sheds new light on the events that preceded her fatal immersion in the Ouse River in 1941.
From a New York Times best-selling author, a boldly imagined portrait of Virginia Woolf that sheds new light on the events that preceded her fatal immersion in the River Ouse in 1941
On April 18, 1941, twenty-two days after Virginia Woolf went for a walk near her weekend house in Sussex and never returned, her body was reclaimed from the River Ouse. Norah Vincent’s Adeline reimagines the events that brought Woolf to the riverbank, offering us a denouement worthy of its protagonist.
With poetic precision and psychological acuity, Vincent channels Virginia and Leonard Woolf, T. S. and Vivienne Eliot, Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington, laying bare their genius and their blind spots, their achievements and their failings, from the inside out. And haunting every page is Adeline, the name given to Virginia Stephen at birth, which becomes the source of Virginia’s greatest consolation, and her greatest torment.
Intellectually and emotionally disarming, Adeline—a vibrant portrait of Woolf and her social circle, the infamous Bloomsbury Group, and a window into the darkness that both inspired and doomed them all—is a masterpiece in its own right by one of our most brilliant and daring writers.
About the Author
Naomi Wood studied for her undergraduate degree at Cambridge and has a master's and doctorate from the University of East Anglia. Her research for Mrs. Hemingway took her from the British Library to the Library of Congress, and to Ernest Hemingway's homes and old haunts in Chicago, Paris, Antibes, Key West, and Havana. She is also the author of The Godless Boys, which was published in the UK. Naomi was awarded the 2012 inaugural Eccles Centre British Library Writer in Resident Award. She teaches at the University of East Anglia and lives in London. Mrs. Hemingway is her American debut.