The story of the van Goethem sisters takes place in Paris in 1878 as they struggle to make a living after their father's death. Told from the perspective of the two oldest sisters: Antoinette and Marie as they deal with the difficulties of supporting their mother, who is addicted to absinthe, and their younger sister Charlotte. Antoinette has left the ballet and is trying to find other work when she falls in love with a young man that leads her away from her family and all she has been working for. Marie works hard for a place in the ballet, and catches the eye of Edgar Degas. She models for him in his art studio, and is in some of his famous pieces. Yet, all is not perfect in their world. They face enormous challenges in their lives.
A beautifully written story of the van Goethem sisters, and what life as a ballerina was like. The two very different perspectives of Antoinette and Marie work very well together. It is easy to switch perspectives and feel completely engrossed by the character you are reading. The characters grabbed me immediately, and I felt compelled by their story to keep reading to discover what would happen to them.
Buchanan writes a well researched historical fiction piece. The Painted Girls is based off real sisters, and I am looking forward to learning more about them. There was an excellent balance between telling the story of these sisters and supplying historical information. I really enjoyed the story and Buchanan's writing style. I look forward to reading more of her books.
I highly recommend reading The Painted Girls.