The Painted Girls: A Novel

The Painted Girls: A Novel - Cathy Marie Buchanan Ms. Buchanan charmed me with her first book “The Day the Falls Stood Still” and she did not disappoint with this book. She researches her topics well and incorporates her historical facts into a fascinating story giving the reader a taste of the reality of the life of her characters in the Paris of 1878.

The Van Goethem sisters never lived in the lap of luxury but as long as their father was alive the family managed to keep the wolf from the door. When he dies and their mother sinks further and further into the welcoming oblivion of absinthe, the girls are forced to do whatever is necessary to keep their little family together. Marie joins the Paris opera where she can earn 17 francs a week. As Marie throws herself completely into her ballet Antoinette turns to the stage. But soon their meager earnings are still not enough and Antoinette meets rakish Emile Abadie, forcing her to decide between struggling through life or choosing more profitable, but less reputable, way of earning a living for young Parisian girls of the time. As Antoinette becomes embroiled in the seedier side of Paris Marie earns a little extra money by modeling for Edgar Degas, becoming the model of choice for his little ballerina statues.

The story is told by both Marie and Antoinette, their very different voices adding to the story rather than deterring from it. If, like me, you wonder about the story behind a picture or painting, this book will satisfy that curiosity. The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I am sorry Ms. Buchanan turned her talents from a Canadian story to take us on a trip to Paris.