Paris, 1878. Following their father’s sudden death, the Van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opera, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous Ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir. Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged 14. Meanwhile, Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labour and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde. Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.” In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation—her survival, even—lies with the other. – Publishers Website
LOVE, LOVE LOVE !!! I guess I can’t just say that, now can I? Cathy has taken a subject she has just come across and developed a seductive, evocative historical fiction masterpiece in her newest book!! Even if you haven’t taken ballet as a girl like I Cathy and myself have, you are still drawn into the gruelling training, the blood and sweat that is left in the practice rooms or on the stage during performances. The attention to detail is impeccable, the emotions stirring your own as you flip or in my case devoured page by page, then realizing that you have read it in one sitting thinking what in the world just happened. Yes, I have gushed about her earlier book The Day The Falls Stood Still, BUT! (yep, there’s that one again) You will absolutely love this one in a whole new way. Grab that glass of absinthe, get comfy in your favorite reading place, and prepare to become enraptured in the trials and tribulations of the Van Goethem sisters as they traipse, dance and leap across the Paris Theatre Stage . As they walk through their poor existence as best they can. One thing I can’t help thinking about…what has happened to them in the next 20 years of their lives…Cathy does give you a small glimpse into the future at the end of the book, but do they fade into the background at the same speed they came to the foreground? Is there something else in the background waiting in the wings? Only I can speculate or dream as they did.
This book for sure will have the Giller Judges enthralled if it is nominated this year for Canada’s Literary Prize for sure! Please Giller Gods, Make it Be !!
If you are on the USA side of the Border, it is published by Riverhead Books. And if it is any sign of the publicity that it is receiving on both sides of the border, it will be a massive best-seller for sure !!