The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan

Feb 27

The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan

If you are looking for a romantic tale of beautiful Parisian ballet dancers and the artist that painted them, then you are stretching at the wrong barre.   Cathy Marie Buchanan weaves a fictional tale laced with historical facts of  the sisters  van Goethem.  These three sisters are a study in poverty and the seedier side of life.  Charlotte is the youngest sister, pretty much an after thought in the story.  The tale is told through the eyes of the eldest Antoinette (super old at 16) and the middle sister Marie (barely a teen.)  The author chooses to bounce back and forth, every other chapter, between the eyes of the sisters.  Antoinette is harsh, street smart, practical, and a sucker for the bad boys.  Her smart mouth and less than stellar ballet talent sends her down a pretty depressing road.  Marie is the more likable of the two girls; her sweetness, work ethic, and cerebral aptitude make her my favorite sis.  Ms. Buchanan paints a vivid picture of the life of a “petite rat” such as Marie.  The poor dancers work themselves mercilessly, with dreams of moving up the ranks and surviving the mean streets of Montmartre in the late 1800s.  Often times girls would supplement their meager incomes with modeling gigs for painters and gifts from “abonnes”  (men who showered their favorite dancers with gifts for……”favors”.)  Pretty creepy when you think about Marie being barely a teen.  It is she who poses for Edgar Degas.

Degas also shows up in the story of Antoinette when he sketches her boyfriend, Emile Abadie in a court of law.  Emile is the French President of douchery.  I wanted to shake Antoinette about one million times when she kept returning to Emile and their toxic relationship.  Degas was a believer in the laws of physiognomy-a popular theory of the time.  Physiognomy was a wholly incorrect and fascinating study that basically assessed one’s character based on physical appearance.   Abadie had specific pronounced features that marked him as a criminal.  In this case, physiognomy probably made the correct call.

2 comments

  1. Love this: “If you are looking for a romantic tale of beautiful Parisian ballet dancers and the artist that painted them, then you are stretching at the wrong barre.”

    Glad you ended up enjoying a story that wasn’t quite what you were expecting.

    Thank you for spreading the word.

    • Sandwich Gal /

      Ha!! So glad you get my humor. I hope everyone rushes out and reads your book. The best of luck to you, you are a wonderful writer.

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