Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

"No social being is less protected than the young Parisian girl - by laws, regulations, and social customs." Le Figaro, 1880. After reading this wonderfully written work, I can see why the author decided to use this quote in the beginning of her novel. "The Painted Girls" is a wonderful, although sometimes disturbing, tale of three sisters and their Mother, who is an alcoholic and not the greatest mother anyway, living in Paris in 1878. Their father has just died, so they are struggling to make ends meet. It centers around this incredibly poor family and we get to see how life was really like for them. The reader literally takes a journey with two of the sisters, living their young years with them and following them into adulthood. All three of the sisters are involved in ballet, so we also get an idea of what that kind of work entails, seeing both the beauty and all the behind-the-scenes activity. As a side job, one of the sisters becomes a model for Edgar Degas, where she sits for the statue "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen." She then models for another artist, although he does not have the class and respectfulness that Degas did. It was very easy to get involved in the lives of these three sisters. I also learned a lot about this time period, which is always fun. If you like historical fiction that captures the essence of a time period then this book will be enjoyable for you!

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