The Painted Girls Praise

  • “The struggle of three sisters in 19th-century Paris blossoms into the rich history of Marie van Goethem, model for Edgar Degas's controversial statue, Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen . . . Buchanan captures their story in this engrossing depiction of belle epoque Paris.”
    Publishers Weekly (full review)
  • “In this compelling tale, we meet fictionalised Marie Van Goethem (one of the young dancers who posed for Degas) and her sister, whose journeys out of the Paris slums evoke the light and dark of the Belle Époque.”
    Good Housekeeping
  • “There's no doubting or denying that Buchanan is a writer, born and made—a masterful narrator who can start with historical people and places and overlay them with powerful stories from her imagination.”
    Costco Connection (full article)
  • “This deeply moving and inventive historical novel tells the story of the girl who modelled for Degas, Marie van Goethem, as she and her family struggle to survive crushing poverty and cruel prejudices.”
    People Magazine (full review)
  • “Buchanan has created an entire world for Marie and her elder sister Antoinette, sketched in rich detail and teeming with suspense. . . . [a] cinematic read that is hard to put down, destined to be hotly debated book-club fodder across the country.”
    The Globe and Mail (full review)
  • “The reader is completely absorbed in the struggle of Marie to rise above her circumstances. . . . a strong, suspenseful narrative . . . a convincing, heartfelt story.”
    National Post (full review)
  • “The ethereal ballerina from Degas’s famed sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen comes to life in this richly imagined novel. Amid the glamour of tutus and art emerges a surprisingly gritty story of survival in the gutters of belle époque Paris.”
    — Entertainment Weekly
  • “Blood is thicker than absinthe in Cathy Marie Buchanan's The Painted Girls (Riverhead), a dark valentine to Belle Époque Paris inspired by the ballet student who modelled for Edgar Degas's provacative Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and her actress sister.”
    Vogue Magazine
  • “Cathy Marie Buchanan captures life in Paris during the belle époque—and the poverty at the time—with raw, rich imagery. The alternating narratives of ballet-dancing sisters Antoinette and Marie show their different approaches to life but make the closeness between them and their younger sister, Charlotte, utterly tangible. You’ll be swept up in this emotional tale of strength and survival, punctuated by tantalizing facts about the world of ballet and the artists of the time.”
    Chatelaine Magazine (full feature)
  • “In The Painted Girls, a historically based work of fiction rich with naturalistic details of late-19th-century Paris, Cathy Marie Buchanan paints the girls who spring from the page as vibrantly as a dancer’s leap across a stage. . . . a captivating story of fate, tarnished ambition and the ultimate triumph of sister-love.”
    The Washington Post (full review)
  • “Based on historical figures and incidents, this novel of family, romance, degradation, and fulfillment delivers great atmosphere and fully-realized characters.”
    Boston Globe
  • “[The Painted Girls] ultimately draws its greatest tension, and warmth, from conflicts that develop between these little women, and the bond that nonetheless endures.”
    USA Today (full review)
  • “In The Painted Girls, a carefully researched, deeply imagined historical novel by Canadian writer Cathy Marie Buchanan, the Belle Époque comes to vibrant, often aching life.”
    Chicago Tribune's Printer Row (full feature)
  • “Inspired by Edgar Degas' Little Dancer Age 14 and the true story of two sisters coming of age in Belle Époque Paris, The Painted Girls imagines the girls' respective introductions to civilized society and its surprising discourteous environment behind closed doors. Buchanan’s prose is as haunting as it is elegant as she conjures a glamorous but seedy Paris and exposes the many innate paradoxes of sisterhood and the world of classical ballet.”
    Harpers Bazaar
  • “Cathy Marie Buchanan’s writing is so good that I rushed through this book . . . how begrudgingly I began to turn the pages as the end approached. . . . Buchanan weaves real and fictional characters and their stories to create a rich stew of drunkards, deceivers and ne’er to wells, seasoned by the occasional soft-hearted soul, who change the lives of the sisters.”
    Toronto Star (full review)
  • “This is a beautifully told and utterly captivating story replete with historical detail, primary-source material, and distinctly drawn characters that will transport readers to Paris in the late 1800s.”
    — School Library Journal (full review)
  • “Not only does Buchanan write a compelling history of Paris during the Belle Époque, she gives readers a timeless story of sisterhood with an in-depth look at the relationships. . . Buchanan achieves all that historical fiction asks for in The Painted Girls.”
    The Vancouver Sun (full review)
  • “We know some, but not all, details of Marie’s life. To provide a full story, those details have been vividly and believably embroidered by Toronto author Cathy Marie Buchanan in a gritty and compelling new novel titled The Painted Girls.”
    Ottawa Citizen (full review)
  • “Part mystery, part love story, The Painted Girls breathes heart and soul into a fascinating era of the City of Lights. One can't help but be drawn in by this compelling and lyrical tale of sister love and rivalry.”
    — Heidi W. Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
  • “History, coming of age, and the art of Degas's beloved dancers are woven together in this enchanting novel by Cathy Marie Buchanan. As the Van Goethem sisters strive for beauty and grace, they struggle for their daily survival in the underbelly of 19th-century Paris. Their choices are framed by the harsh lives into which they were born, animated by love, and set the course of their awakening into womanhood. The Painted Girls is utterly captivating.”
    — Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster’s Wager
  • “Sisters, dance, art, ambition, and intrigue in late 1800s Paris. The Painted Girls offers the best of historical fiction: compelling characters brought backstage at l’Opera and front and center in Degas’ studio. This one has “book club favorite” written all over it.”
    — Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
  • The Painted Girls is historical fiction at its finest, awash in period details of the Paris of Degas and Zola while remaining, at its heart, the poignant story of two sisters struggling to stay together even as they find themselves pulled toward different, and often misunderstood, dreams. Cathy Marie Buchanan also explores the uneasy relationship between artist and muse with both compassion and soul-searing honesty.”
    — Melanie Benjamin, author of Alice I Have Been and The Aviator's Wife
  • The Painted Girls holds you enthralled as it spools out the vivid story of young sisters in late 19th century Paris struggling to transcend their lives of poverty through the magic of dance. The author opens a rare window into the hard work, pain and determination behind the graceful art of ballet; even more, into the hard and sometimes cruel choices faced by young girls of that time. I guarantee, you will never look at Edgar Degas’s immortal sculpture of the Little Dancer in quite the same way again.”
    — Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker
  • “In a rich story at once troubling and inspiring, Cathy Marie Buchanan writes masterfully about the hard life of two sisters in nineteenth century Paris and that fine line dividing the gilt-edged from the gritty. A wonderful tale, beautifully told.”
    — Terry Fallis, author of Best Laid Plans and Up and Down
  • The Painted Girls, a meticulously researched page-turner, brings to life the 19th century Paris with its girl dancers and artists who paint and exploit them. In a society which believes that destiny is written into the human body, Marie and Antoinette van Goethem refuse to give up on their lives and their gripping stories leap off the pages with the grace of ballerinas.”
    — Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace
  • The Painted Girls is a beautiful book—a heartbreaking portrait of vulnerability, and a tribute to the power of sisterhood. And, like all good historical fiction, it gives us a rare and vivid glimpse into a time and place very different from our own. Lucky is the reader who gets swept up in these magical pages.”
    — Alison Pick, author of Far to Go
  • “If you’ve ever looked at a famed piece of art and wondered what the artist was thinking or who the subjects really were, you will be swept away by The Painted Girls. Wonderfully imagined and masterfully rendered, this story of 19th century Paris and life behind the scenes of its legendary Opera House will change the way you see the world of ballet, art and the lives it portrays.”
    — Shilpi Somaya Gowda, author of Secret Daughter
  • “From the first page, I was swept up in Cathy Marie Buchanan’s enchanting new novel. Set in Paris during the late 1800‘s, moving between Degas’s studio and Zola’s stage, The Painted Girls tells the heartbreaking story of two working class sisters who must lean on each other to overcome their circumstances in a city on the cusp of a social and cultural revolution.”
    — Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
  • “As two sisters' paths converge and spiral out of control, Buchanan powerfully . . . depicts their efforts to navigate the slippery ethical terrain facing them in an era when a young woman's most lucrative asset was her body.”
    Bust Magazine (full review)
  • “A fascinating and historically intriguing account of the lives of two young women and aspiring ballerinas in Belle Epoque Paris.”
    — The Aspen Daily News (full review)
  • “Belle epoque Paris springs to life under the sure hand of Cathy Marie Buchanan... In this book I found a lovely braiding of the real and invented, a seductive world I did not want to leave.”
    — NPR
  • “Buchanan does a masterful job of interweaving historical figures into her plot, but it is the moving yet unsentimental portrait of family love, of two sisters struggling to survive with dignity, that makes this a must-read.”
    Kirkus Book Reviews (starred review) (full review)