Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Novel to Recommend

   I have just finished reading "The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan and enjoyed it thoroughly. It is loosely based on the family of the young dancer who modelled for Edgar Degas' statue "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen".
   The story follows the two van Goethem sisters who were spotted by Degas as they trained to be ballerinas of L'Opera in Paris in the late 19th century. The author advances the story by alternating the narrative between the two sisters, Marie (the subject of the statue) and Antoinette, giving a vivid picture of the competition and struggle for survival that these young dancers faced to make it to the second quadrille (the group of dancers who backed up the lead performers).
   Many of the story lines are based on actual people and events, and the descriptions of places, streets and characters of 19th century Paris took me back to visiting the city. It was a difficult time for the masses of poor people and Miss Buchanan describes it in a moving yet unsentimental manner. Worth a read!

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