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The Painted Girls [Hardcover]

Cathy Marie Buchanan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 31.41
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Book Description

Jan. 10 2013

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.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review

"History, coming of age, and the art of Degas's beloved dancers are woven together in this enchanting novel. The Painted Girls is utterly captivating" VINCENT LAM , author of The Headmaster's Wager

"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

"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

"A dark valentine to Belle Epoque Paris."

— Vogue

“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 Degas’s immortal sculpture of the Little Dancer in quite the same way again.”

— Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker

“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, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

CATHY MARIE BUCHANAN is the author of The Painted Girls and The Day the Falls Stood Still. Published January 2013, The Painted Girls has garnered rave reviews and been showered with special attention — everything from selection as a People Magazine pick to designation as a book “People Are Talking About” by Vogue to inclusion in Entertainment Weekly’s Must List. Also an IndieNext pick, The Painted Girls debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list and is a #1 national bestseller in Canada. The Day the Falls Stood Still, her debut novel, is a New York Times bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and an IndieNext pick. She holds a BSc (Biochemistry) and an MBA from Western University. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario, she now resides in Toronto.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
25 of 25 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
Format:Paperback
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
Format:Paperback
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 500 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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2 of 2 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 An absolute must-read! Dec 24 2012
By Jules
Format:Paperback
I LOVED this book. The rich characters and the well-researched story transport you to life in a poor neighbourhood of 19th century Paris where "making it" as a ballerina entailed sacrifice to an extent that goes way beyond working hard. The story is completely engrossing, alternating between one sister and the other, both trying to make their way out of the misery and poverty that surrounds them. I could not put this book down... Highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 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
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 1 month ago by Ginger Lawton
4.0 out of 5 stars Painfully heartwarming
A lovely tale of love, pain, betrayal and forgiveness. Was supposed to be studying but couldn't put this book down.
Published 1 month ago by kryzia
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Read this as part of a book club. I appreciated the blend of two true stories together in this novel. Embellished of course. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Cindyw
3.0 out of 5 stars Truthful in its own way.
Liked it. Shows the truth about the struggles the poor had to endure while the rich grabbed what they desired.
Published 2 months ago by Brigitte
3.0 out of 5 stars whimsical
It always amazes me the lengths a person will do to survive..these girls were strong filled with determination to succeed and prevent themselves from starving..I enjoyed the book.
Published 2 months ago by Sharonora
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pain Behind Beauty
My toes hurt reading this story of the French ballet and the struggles behind the creation of beauty. A way of life to aspire to but not for just anyone.
Published 3 months ago by Diane M. Jesmer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This book was well written and interesting. As the reader, I felt transported and was caught up in the lives for these girls. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dalini Oumade Singh
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Not a book that stayed with me. I read it and enjoyed it but nothing more. It certainly isn't one that I would highly recommend.
Published 4 months ago by Hum 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars super
one of the best books I have read in a long time. Ordered another for my friend as I think everyone should read this book
Published 5 months ago by quinnbabe
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
I really enjoyed this book. The mix of history and fiction gave the story a realistic feel as if you were right there. I learned new things about the dancers in the Paris opera. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dale Dawson
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