“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."
“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.”
“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 dancer’s 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."
“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."
“In The Painted Girls, a carefully researched, deeply imagined historical novel…the Belle Époque comes to vibrant, often aching life.”
“ [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.”
“Inspired by Edgar Degas' Little Dancer Age 14 and the true story of two sisters coming of age in Belle Époque Paris, The Painted Girls imagines the girls' respective introductions to civilized society and its surprising discourteous environment behind closed doors. Buchanan’s prose is as haunting as it is elegant as she conjures a glamorous but seedy Paris and exposes the many innate paradoxes of sisterhood and the world of classical ballet.”
“Cathy Marie Buchanan’s writing is so good that I rushed through this book . . . how begrudgingly I began to turn the pages as the end approached. . . . Buchanan weaves real and fictional characters and their stories to create a rich stew of drunkards, deceivers and ne’er to wells, seasoned by the occasional soft-hearted soul, who change the lives of the sisters.”
“A dark valentine to Belle Epoque Paris."
“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."
“History, coming of age, and the art of Degas's beloved dancers are woven together in this enchanting novel by Cathy Marie Buchanan. As the Van Goethem sisters strive for beauty and grace, they struggle for their daily survival in the underbelly of 19th-century Paris. Their choices are framed by the harsh lives into which they were born, animated by love, and set the course of their awakening into womanhood. The Painted Girls is utterly captivating.”
—Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster’s Wager
“The Painted Girls is a beautiful book—a heartbreaking portrait of vulnerability, and a tribute to the power of sisterhood. And, like all good historical fiction, it gives us a rare and vivid glimpse into a time and place very different from our own. Lucky is the reader who gets swept up in these magical pages.”
—Alison Pick, author of Far to Go
“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 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
“If you’ve 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, author of Secret Daughter
“In a rich story at once troubling and inspiring, Cathy Marie Buchanan writes masterfully about the hard life of two sisters in nineteenth century Paris and that fine line dividing the gilt-edged from the gritty. A wonderful tale, beautifully told.”
—Terry Fallis, author of Best Laid Plans ()
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