Set in the sparkling atmosphere of late 19th century Parisian theatre, The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan centers on two sisters who turn to the stage in order to earn a living after their father’s sudden death.
With their alcoholic mother drinking the meager wages she earns as a laundress, the two girls must find work to pay the bills, but there are few opportunities available to them. Marie is sent to the Paris Opera where she is trained to be a ballerina, and eventually becomes a model for Edgar Degas where she is captured in his famous work of art Little Dancer Aged Fourteen; while her older sister Antoinette gets a job as an extra in a production of Émile Zola’s masterpiece L’Assommoir.
Along with the glamour and adventures the two sisters experience come difficult choices. They are attractive targets for those eager to take advantage of their vulnerability and inexperience. After falling in love with a dangerous young man, Antoinette faces the temptation of trading her virtue for an easier life.
Through the highs, the lows and the challenges two young women encounter, sisterly love is the recurring theme. The special bond and love they have for each other is a source of strength and comfort during their struggles and an inspiration to the reader.
In addition to the story of Marie and Antoinette, The Painted Girls also explores an interesting chapter of history in France, during which culture and society were undergoing significant transformations.
Cathy Marie Buchanan is also the author of the bestselling novel, The Day the Falls Stood Still.
Some information provided by Amazon and Goodreads.