Book of the Week: The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Inspired by both the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged 14 and a famous criminal trial of the era, Toronto-based Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Painted Girls brings late 19th century Paris to life through the lives of two sisters. Marie van Goethem is a young ballet student living in poverty with her mother and three sisters; the eldest, Antoinette, works in a laundry to pay for food and dancing lessons. As the two girls struggle to rise above the gritty realities of their impoverished lives, they encounter various men, including the artist Degas, who could either help them or hinder them.