The minute I handed in my thesis I dove into this book and I was not disappointed. It was recommended to me by my sisters bestie and she has good taste!
"The Painted Girls" is the story of three sisters living in Paris in the 1800s fighting against life in the slums by studying ballet at the opera house. Buchanan is a master of the time filling her novel with both fact and fiction twisting the news of the time into her story. She is a true talent for historical fiction.
The story is narrated by the two elder sisters Antoinette and Marie.
Marie is the young dreamer destined for the stage. Her character is based on the Degas statue 'little dancer'. She enters the opera ballet and models for Degas. When Marie realizes that she is not bringing enough money into it she begins working mornings in a bakery to feed her family.
Antoinette is strong headed and happily speaks her mind. It has got her thrown out of the ballet and so she must find work as a walk on. She appears in Émile Zola’s Naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir where she falls in love with a dangerous young man who leads her into a life of crime.
With the appearance of Degas and a glimpse into the sordid world of sponsored ballerina's the readers follow these girls through the world of their dreams and their harsh realities.
It is unbelievably moving. As a helpless reader you must watch these beautiful young girls learn the horror of real life.
For those readings it is a must read.