The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
It is Paris in the last 1880s, the van Goethem sisters have just lost their fasther and their mother spends her laundress money disappearing into an absinthe bottle. This means that eviction and starvation are just around the corner.
Antoinette finds several odd jobs as a walk-on at the theater where she meets her boyfriend and lover. Marie, aged fourteen and Charlotte, age ten join the ballet and the hard work that entails to earn a paltry sum of three francs per day. They both study arduously to go up the ranks in order to earn more. For Marie she is chosen to model for Degas as one of his ballerinas and nudes. As she progresses she attracts a sponsor and becomes little more than a prostitute. She feels so conflicted by this and can not approach her older sister as Antoinette is having problems of her own.
Antoinette's boyfriend has been charged with murder and the choices are either the guillotine or transport to New Caledonia.
This story is a wonderful story about sister helping sister and the sordid world of Degas' ballerinas. Loved this story
First Line: "Monsieur LeBlanc leans against the doorframe, his arms folded over a belly grown round on pork crackling."