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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Painted Girls

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By Cathy Marie Buchanan, it is a novel that tells the story of the girl who modeled for Degas' Little Dancer Aged Fourteen sculpture. The reviewer writes that it, "brings to life [Paris's] sights, sounds, and smells, along with the ballet hall where dancers hunger for a place in the corps and the wages it would bring." I am reluctantly admitting that the review is from People magazine and is People's Pick. There is a longer review and it sound like a difficult book to read due to poverty, prejudice, sexual predation, and "punishing choices as they fight to endure both physically and psychologically." Not sure exactly how much ballet is in the book, but it sounds intriguing.

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  • 1 month later...

I finished this book. It is a fiction based on actual facts surrounding the Van Gothem sisters, Antoinette, Marie, and Charlotte. It centers on Antoinette and Marie, the latter of whom was the model for Degas' statuette, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. The book was pretty good but was not about ballet. I would have liked to have had more ballet, but still, the small taste of what it was like for the petit rats at the Paris Opera Ballet was fascinating.

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Thanks for the review, SewRibbons! Someone recently recommended this book to me so I was thinking about picking it up . . .

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I heard the author speak at an event earlier this month. I was not particularly captivated, so I don't have any immediate intention to read the book. Of course, my taste isn't everyone's taste.


I will add that the story did not sound G-rated. Or maybe not even PG. Sewribbons might be able to comment on this.

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No, the story is not G and I'd say not even PG. I would say that, but for one paragraph, it is a solid PG-13. That one paragraph, though, is maybe R-rated. There are a lot of uncomfortable situations with underaged girls and older men that are encouraged by the ballet school administration and even parents. There is lots of grime and many, many bad decisions made by young girls (the most frustrating part for me). There are uncomforable situations, but hardly any graphic language or actions, save that one pesky paragraph.


My DD is almost 15 and I would not have her read it for a couple years, but I did read some passages out loud to her from the ballet sections. Some wonderful stuff there.


Moderators: I see now that I have not followed the system for organizing entries in this forum. Maybe you wish you rename this string according to the correct naming convention: Books: Painted Girls. Thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to those who have posted comments after reading the book. My interest in the book was initially sparked by this review:



The same newspaper published an article about the author, mentioning that she studied ballet "intensively" when she was growing up. For anyone who is interested, here is the link to that article:


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Wow, that review gives a lot of details. I would have never revealed all of that up front. I guess now I understand why my kids get so mad at me when they ask me what I movie that I want them to see is about and I tell them, "Its a story" - LOL! Thanks for the links; very interesting!

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