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The Painted Girls [Paperback]

Cathy Marie Buchanan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 14 2012

Paris, 1878. 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 Opera, 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 modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged 14. Meanwhile, Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labour 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, <em>The Painted Girls</em> 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—her survival, even—lies with the other.

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“Buchanan has created an entire world for Marie and her elder sister Antoinette, sketched in rich detail and teeming with suspense. . . . [a] cinematic read that is hard to put down, destined to be hotly debated book-club fodder across the country.” —The Globe and Mail

"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 Degas’s 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

About the Author

<strong>Cathy Marie Buchanan</strong>’s The Painted Girls is a #1 National Bestseller in Canada, a New York Times bestseller, and has garnered rave reviews and been showered with special attention—everything from selection as a People Magazine pick to inclusion in Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List” to being named a best book of 2013 by NPR, Good Housekeeping and Goodreads. Her debut novel, The Day the Falls Stood Still, is a New York Times bestseller and a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection. She holds a BSc (Honours Biochemistry) and an MBA from Western University. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario, she now resides in Toronto with her husband and three sons.




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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book. Couldn’t put it down. Dec 18 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, the cover/design is lovely. Perfect gift material. I enjoyed Ms Buchanan's first book, The Day the Falls Stood still so I eagerly read this new one.

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan is a richly detailed story portraying the dark netherworld behind the pretty tutus in Edgar Degas’ paintings. The story seamlessly shifts between the perspectives of the two van Goethem sisters, Antoinette and Marie (Degas’ muse for Little Dancer Aged Fourteen). Reading it, I fell completely into Paris, 1879, and the world of the “petit rats” struggling to elevate their lives through the arduous and elevated work of ballet. Heartbreaking, lyrical, beautiful and a very satisfying read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You should read this book Jan. 8 2013
By Lisa
I have to confess that initially this book held no appeal for me (aside from the beautiful cover). I don’t have much interest in Paris or the ballet but it is so well written that I was engaged from the beginning. I found myself thinking and worrying about the characters throughout the day and I couldn’t wait until the evening when I would have time to read again. Whether you know Paris or not, you will be amazed at how well researched this book is. Cathy has clearly done her homework and the details of Paris and the Opera bring the story to life. Get a copy of this book and prepare to escape to the Belle Epoque.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't want to put it down Dec 18 2012
By Mirka
Ms. Buchanan's meticulous research lets you quickly slip into late 1800's Paris. Life in the city is grubby and dangerous with rare glimpses of beauty. The ballet world is less than glamorous when seen through the eyes of the young girl who models for Edgar Degas . Her story of family, survival and a love of dance will make you want to scan through images of the Little Dancer aged Fourteen to see if you can catch the look of determination in her features that must have inspired the author. A lovely story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Had so much potential ... Feb. 24 2013
By Jilla Lonsdale TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really liked it but felt that the author never quite fully explored the characters -- it could have been so much better
The plot was great, but there was much color that could have been added to this book -- I only felt it scratched the surface of its possibility
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! Jan. 5 2013
By Anne
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved this book. I found myself completely drawn into the book to the point where I couldn't put it down, much to the chagrin of my family. Buchanan describes the setting, time period in such vivid detail I felt transported to belle epoque Paris! The book has so many wonderful themes for discussion-poverty, family ties/strife, survival, culture of the time period (art, dance). I highly recommend this book, especially for book clubs or any lover of historical fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read Dec 30 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Painted Girls is Cathy Marie Buchanan's second novel and like her first, it was a read I couldn't stop but I was sad when I knew it was coming to an end! This story takes place in the 1880's in Paris, and is about 3 young sisters who basically take care of each other during some very difficult and dangerous times, when they are forced to make decisions which will affect their lives forever. Their love and loyalty to one another helps to guide them and the author makes you feel this, right from the start. Historical fiction is my favourite type of writing and in The Painted Girls, the author creates a story of mystery in amongst my learning of the Paris opera and the artists of this time, including the famous painter and sculpture Edgar Degas.

I would highly recommend this novel about love, determination and loyalty. I can hardly wait for Cathy's next book! - read less
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A BEAUTIFULLY TOLD STORY NOT TO BE MISSED! Sept. 1 2013
By Janet Babins TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The lives of the three van Goethem sisters are about to change drastically, when their father dies. There is Antoinette aged 17, Marie almost 14 and Charlotte aged 7. Without their father's wages and with only the small amount of money that their mother earns as a laundress, who has an addiction to Absinthe, they are behind in their rent. They will certainly be evicted if they don't find a way of coming up with the money.

It is Paris in the 19th century on the rue de Douai, the poorest street in all of Paris, where the van Goethems live in a lodging. The two main characters in this story are Antoinette and Marie. They take turns in telling their stories.

Antoinette has been just dismissed from Ballet classes at the Paris Opera for arguing with the dance Director and told never to return. Antoinette takes over as mother to her sisters. The sisters are uneducated, poor and too young to get jobs. Their mother stands up and tells Antoinette to take her sisters, Marie and Charlotte, to the Opera Ballet Dance School to be trained to enter the famous Ballet. That is their only chance of making some money and getting out of their situation. They are accepted into the school.

In the meantime, Antoinette gets herself a small walk-on part in a play, which has been adapted from Emile Zola's masterpiece L'Assommoir. She will be playing an ignorant and poverty stricken laundress with a few words. Zola's novel is about poverty in the working-class Paris among the common and ignorant people sweating it out as laundresses etc. The Heroine in this story is named Gervaise and the story tells of her decline into destitution, alcoholism and death. Antoinette meets up with a bushy-haired man named Emile, who also has a small part in the play.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful imagery. This author can really paint a picture ...
Wonderful imagery. This author can really paint a picture in your mind which makes you feel like you are there with them. I was really drawn to this book and would read it again.
Published 7 days ago by Heather Jamieson
1.0 out of 5 stars ... finish the book after 25 pages i was absolutely bored so sorry but...
i could not finish the book after 25 pages i was absolutely bored so sorry but did not like it
Published 1 month ago by Lorraine Boulais
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very happy
Published 2 months ago by Marie Farley
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A discovery. The history behind Degas work was revealing.
Published 3 months ago by monique
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Concept
The concept was very good, but I found it a very slow read, what would normally take a few days to read, has taken for ever, At times it seamed disjointed. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Leata Murdock
4.0 out of 5 stars Very sweet story
It is beautifully written. I had trouble putting it down and I loved the way it was written from two different point of view. Read more
Published 5 months ago by cyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction
This book was selected as one of our book club books. The title, unfortunately, made most members think that the book was going to be about prostitution! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Laura Churchill Duke
4.0 out of 5 stars I
The book The Painted Girls is a good book. I would give it an 8/10. It is written in a very descriptive and matter of fact way. It seems to stay true to a historical context. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Annuska
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Repetitive and boring. To much content describing the dance element. Though possibly realistic characters in that era. Not interesting enough of a story line to hold ones attention
Published 5 months ago by Anne
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
This is a really good book, i have enjoyed reading it. If you like time pieces this is the book for u
Published 8 months ago by Ginger Lawton
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