Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Blog Tour
After the death of their father, and the downward spiral of their mother, the Van Goethem sisters are forced to take care of themselves. Most of the burden falls onto their older sister, Antoinette's shoulders. The family is on the cusp of being evicted, and food is scarce. Antoinette encourages her sisters to try out for the Paris opera, if they are selected, they will earn seventeen francs per week to train. Antoinette finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation, and meets Emile Abadie. Their young love pushes Antoinette away from her sisters. Marie tries to make additional money modeling which puts her in uncomfortable situations. Antoinette is tempted by the world of prostitution. Three young sisters try to find their place in the world. Survival is easier for some than others.
The Painted Girls is filled with meticulous research and well rounded characters. Paris during the 1880’s was difficult, and dangerous, Buchanan doesn't spare readers the details. Her style quickly draws readers in, and holds their attention. The sister’s relationship is strained with trying to take care of themselves and each other. Antoinette struggles with being the older sister, and trying to branch out on her own. Their mother drowns herself in absinthe, not caring about the well being of her daughters. Antoinette becomes the head of the house, a role she clearly doesn't feel comfortable with. Mary is determined and ballet becomes her escape, but modeling helps pays for the private lessons. Unfortunately, modeling is long hours and uncomfortable nude poses.
Reading about the girl’s situation was despairing. Their father held up the house, and with his death their relationships crumble. They are bitter towards their mother, and know that they can’t count on her for anything. They have each other, but siblings don’t always get along. They each want their space, and learn to find their way.
This was my first read by Cathy Marie Buchanan and I really want to read her first novel “The Day the Falls Stood Still.” The Painted Girls lives up to all the hype. The historical details and thought put into the novel was very well plotted. Highly recommended!