Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

 The three van Goethem girls: Antoinette, Marie and Charlotte live in late 1800s Paris. Their father suddenly dies, leaving them in the care of a mother, addicted to absinthe, and with only her pittance wages as a laundress. Desperate for money and with very few options of work for teenage girls, they turn to the Paris Opera where they have the opportunity to pursue their passions and gain a few meager francs per month. The Opera brings to the girls both opportunity for progress and for their destruction.

This insomniac's opinion:

Paris. 1878. Sounds lovely and romantic, doesn't it? While there are bits of beauty in the novel, this is most certainly not a novel about living the Parisian dream. Quite the opposite. This novel is about the desperate fragility of poverty. The things we must do for mere survival.

This novel was so achingly beautiful. It was the best of historical fiction in that it was perfectly descriptive and made you aware of the time period, even feel as though you were there. It erased in my mind the romantic ideal of Paris, and showed me the gritty, dirty, desperate underbelly of Paris in the late 1800s. I felt deep compassion for the girls, who were thrown into a world and responsibilities meant for adults. Even as terrible things happen and the girls seem stuck in a downward spiral, I always felt hope and could not stop devouring the novel. It is truly a masterpiece.

Worth staying up all night to read?

Absolutely. This is a do not miss novel for fans of historical fiction!


 5 stars


  1. Wow! Thank you. Very honoured and happy that you consider The Painted Girls "do not miss" fiction. Thank you for spreading the word.

    1. You are most welcome! Thank you for writing this gem.