Monday, July 08, 2019
First sentence: "You," said the man wearing blue-tinted eyeglasses.
Premise/plot: Edgar Degas is known for his paintings of dancers. But he is also known, of course, for his sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Marie, Dancing is a fictional account of that fourteen-year-old dancer, Marie van Goethem. The novel opens in 1878 with Degas inviting the young girl to model for him. It follows her through several years--even when she is no longer dancing.
Marie is the middle daughter. She has an older sister, Antoinette, and a younger sister, Charlotte. All three are ballet dancers. Dancing alone would never bring home enough money to pay the rent and buy food. That's one reason their aunt disapproves of the way her sister is raising the girls. (Another reason is that the mom is a drunk who takes what little money they have to drink.) Marie and Charlotte are almost always on the hungry side. Antoinette has started looking for men willing to pay for her company. So she'll come home with extra money, jewelry, and clothes. She's a vain girl; the more attention she receives from men the less attention she gives to her sisters and her dancing. Marie uses the money she gets from modeling to support her family. The modeling does not last long--at least through the eyes of Marie herself. She misses the money when it's gone. It took years for the sculpture to get finished and be ready for exhibition. (1881)
Carolyn Meyer is one of my favorite historical writers. I definitely enjoyed this one! I loved, loved, loved the setting. Although the novel could make one hungry....if one is prone to really getting immersed in a novel. I loved the sprinkling of French throughout the novel. I found that aspect delightful.
I thought the characterization was wonderful. I really loved Marie and Charlotte. I loved Marie's friendship with Jean-Pierre. I was really hoping these two would have a happy ending. (I was disappointed.)
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews