Beyond Books

The Painted Girls – Blog Tour (Review)

The Painted Girls
by Cathy Marie Buchanan

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 Opéra, where for a scant seventy francs a month, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work—and the love of a dangerous
young man—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 Fourteen. Antoinette, meanwhile, descends lower and lower in society, and must make the choice between a life of honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde—that is, unless her love affair derails her completely. (

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know I rarely – if ever – participate in Blog Tours. Therefore you know that when and if I do, it’s because I am SUPER into the book and author I am promoting. And, Internet, I am so all over this author and book.

Waaaaay back in 2010, I had a torrid love affair with Cathy’s first book, The Day the Falls Stood Still. Since then I knew that whatever other book Cathy Marie Buchanan put out, I would be all over. She was kind enough to make sure I received an ARC of her latest release (and it came so prettily wrapped!) and it was sheer torture waiting to read it. I could have read it right then and there, but I was swamped with so much other stuff and I hate reading a book months in advance of when it comes out – especially since I write my blog posts as I read books. So I treated myself to this book over my Christmas holiday, when I knew I would have down time and really be able to focus on the book.

The Painted Girls is told from two points of view. Sisters Marie and Antoinette take you through their stories in Paris 1878 and the world behind Degas’ art comes to life through these two very different, yet so similar, sisters.

I will tell you right off the bat I didn’t like Antoinette one bit. I thought she was selfish and rude and throwing her life away for nothing. I didn’t like how she seemed to abandon her sisters and responsibilities. OOOHHHH she made me SO MAD! I didn’t even want to read the Antoinette chapters! Gah!

But I loved reading the Marie chapters and her dancer life and all her hopes and promises… and then it got downright creepy and uncomfortable and all I could think was, “Antoinette! You louse! How can you be leaving your sister to suffer so! You are a useless deadbeat!” *shakes fist at book*

I was not disappointed in this book at all, the writing style I loved in The Day the Falls Stood Still is even more amazing in The Painted Girls. The characters just as emotionally compelling. I might have felt annoyance and dislike about Antoinette, but the fact that I felt these emotions so strongly is only because of how well she was written.

The thing I loved most about this book though was something that I can’t really tell you about lest I spoil it for you and I don’t want to do that.  So I’ll provide these handy-dandy explanation graphics for you…

fig. 1

fig. 2

fig. 3


That cryptic enough for ya? Can you figure it out? These are my mad artistic skillz here. I am certain I am using Gimp to its full potential. =P

So, yes, I loved The Painted Girls so very much (except for the times I was hating on Antoinette and the various creeptastic scenes with Marie which made me want to close the book, walk away and take a shower with all my clothes on. *shudder*) Cathy Marie Buchanan has written yet another book that I think should be on English lit curriculum in high school (the higher end) or even in college lit. She writes about history well and makes the make -believe parts seem believable.

This might be a little ambitious, but I can’t wait for her next novel!

And as a super exciting bonus on this blog tour, I got to have some interview questions answered. You can find that post here!



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