Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Painted Girls

 
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Here's a book of historical fiction I recently read during the holidays and thoroughly enjoyed. Based on fact, it's the story of three sisters who share a passion for ballet in the late 19th century Paris of Edgar Degas and the other budding Impressionists. There is so much to consider in the tale: I think it would make an excellent book club selection
 
 The girls are trying to survive after their father departs. The mother is an absinthe addict and the oldest daughter, Antoinette, at 17, has just been let go by the ballet, Paris Opéra, where she had hopes of earning enough to keep the little family going. The younger sisters, 13 and 8, are dependent on Antoinette while also trying to find their own way.
 
The details of life in these circumstances were an eye-opener for me. The Canadian author, Cathy Marie Buchanan, brings to life the scenes, scents and dangers for girls in such a society in a compelling story based on the real lives of the Van Goethem sisters at the same time weaving in a real story of murder and intrigue. 
 
After reading this novel, you will look at Degas depictions of young ballet dancers in an entirely new way.