The Painted Girls

The Painted Girls

Book - 2013
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In belle époque Paris, the Van Goethem sisters struggle for survival after the sudden death of their father, a situation that prompts young Marie's ballet training and her introduction to a genius painter.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2013
ISBN: 9781594486241
1594486247
Branch Call Number: FICTION BUCHANA CATHY
Characteristics: 357 p. ; 24 cm

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CatherineG_1 May 28, 2017

Read this with my book club. Loved the book. The story was very well done and based loosely on two sisters who were Degas's models for his art work. The ballerinas who posed for him earned more for their modelling than their work in the dance company. Great insights into the art and dance world. Also take a look at his paintings to truly appreciate the book.

h
heatherfield
May 21, 2017

The author does well to bring 19th century Paris to life—as well as weave a story in the empty spaces of what is known about historical people and events—but I did not particularly care for the plot or the characters she created. Sadly, it was plodding and boring and it took me far too long to get through.

Chapel_Hill_KatieJ May 16, 2016

Degas is a minor character in this book, with the main protagonist being the model for his statue, Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer. Marie and Antoinette are sisters trying to support themselves and their little sister. Marie becomes a dancer, and supplements her income by modeling for Degas. While the story takes some bizarre, far-fetched detours, the relationship between the sisters is the heart of the book. This is a nice read for anyone who likes ballet or art history.

s
SCLibraryStaff
Mar 23, 2016

The Art Lovers Book Club read and discussed this on March 20, 2016 and rated it 6.7 out of 10. The lowest rating was a 2 and the highest was a 9, which means we had a great discussion with really varying viewpoints.

c
cmlibrary_cbretz
Dec 29, 2015

The story, told through Antoinette and Marie’s voices in alternating chapters, focuses on the sisters’ struggle to make the right choices. The author has created an engaging story, based loosely on real people and events. Readers will find themselves hoping for a happy ending even as events spiral out of control.

PoMoLibrary Jul 21, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Summer Reading Club traveler Rachel: I greatly enjoy this story. What a treat when you love history and art.

m
Martke62
Jun 20, 2015

A beautiful book, I loved reading it for my English class.

w
Wong_Anne
Jun 16, 2015

The Painted Girls purports to tell the story of the van Goethem girls, desperately poor young women who live with their mother in the shadow of Montmatre. The novel is based in historical fact – Marie van Goethem at the age of 14 was the model for Degas’ wax sculpture, The Little Dancer. [See the Musee d’Orsay and/or the Tate for images and info]
Antoinette and Marie tell the story of their life in and about the Paris Opera Ballet in alternating chapters. Life in Paris in the late 1880s was difficult, crime was rife, labourers worked long hours, and prostitution was a common resort. The author weaves together the true events of the day with a fictionalized account of the family. In truth, Marie “Van Goethem, disappeared shortly after Degas’s sculpture was finished. She was dismissed from the Paris Opera Ballet in 1882 for being late to a rehearsal, and poof—c’est fini.” [Smithsonian] Buchanan has chosen to show us what Marie does after the sculpture is shown to the public. Like The Girl with the Pearl Earring, this novel gives the reader a possible back story to a very famous artwork. An enjoyable read for anyone interested in (Impressionist) art and historical fiction.

2
21221018621539
May 29, 2014

looking forward to reading this a second time.

This book is well written, has some brilliant insight into live in poverty stricken Paris. I will never look at a Degus painting with the same eyes. However the author falls short of genius. Why could she not have made this an epic, more complex charachter development and more detail about why some of those minor characters made those choices. Who were those ballet teachers? What were those nuns doing for fallen women. More background about the drama in the laundry and more about the life and struggles of some of the other ballerinas. If the author had taken another year to write this book it could have become a classic instead of a great read.

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