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Marie, Dancing

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  985 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Marie van Goethem, a fourteen-year-old ballet dancer in the famed Paris Opéra, has led a life of hardship and poverty. For her, dancing is the only joy to counter the pain inflicted by hunger, her mother's drinking, and her selfish older sister. But when famed artist Edgar Degas demands Marie's presence in his studio, it appears that her life will be transformed: He will p ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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6th out of 154 books — 180 voters
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Teen Historical Fiction
191st out of 1,007 books — 2,485 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 2,520)
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”A man is an artist only at certain moments, by an effort of will. Objects have the same appearance for everybody.”- Edgar Degas

Setting:Paris, France; 1878-1917

Coverly Love?:Yes! I love the simple photo of the little ballerina girl above the backdrop of Paris.

Plot:Marie van Goetham has dreamed about becoming a prima ballerina after her mother signs her and her sisters up for ballet classes at the Paris Opera. When she’s dancing, she feels free as a bird, flywing away from all the troubles th
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

I can't count the times that I've seen a truly inspiring painting or sculpture and wondered what the inspiration behind it was. With MARIE, DANCING, the story behind Edgar Degas's well known sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, is brought to vivid life in this fictionalized account.

At fourteen, Marie van Goethem still holds out hope that one day her life will be, if not grand, then better than it is now. Her drunken mother is unable to hold down a job, and
Jan 08, 2015 Marie rated it really liked it
Wow. That is what I thought of this book. Jut wow. I t wasn't a book I would read on normal day but dang was this book good. It had so many different elements to it that just make it so interesting. I was kind of reluctant to read it at first but as I started getting into it I couldn't stop. It was like it kept pulling me into it more and more, and I think of myself as a fast reader so as soon as I got to the end I was devastated. When I read books they kind of become a part of me, so this defin ...more
Dec 08, 2009 Claire rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pamela Hubbard
This story follows Marie, a 14 year old French girl who is also a dancer in the Paris Opera. Her family lives in poverty while her and her two sisters dance full-time. They are uneducated and their mother dreams of them becoming stars, but life gets in the way. When Marie's sister makes some mistakes, Marie has to suffer the consequences and take on the burden of her family. She continually sacrifices her own dreams for those of her family. This is the story of the girl who was the model and mus ...more
Cat Bradford
Jul 16, 2014 Cat Bradford rated it it was amazing
Marie van Goethem, a fourteen-year-old ballet dancer in the famed Paris Opéra, has led a life of hardship and poverty. For her, dancing is the only joy to counter the pain inflicted by hunger, her mother's drinking, and her selfish older sister. But when famed artist Edgar Degas demands Marie's presence in his studio, it appears that her life will be transformed: He will pay her to pose for a new sculpture, and he promises to make her a star.

As Marie patiently stands before Mr. Degas each week
Apr 11, 2015 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Carolyn Meyer, veteran of young adult historical fiction, takes us to 1870s Paris and a fictionalized version of the life of Marie von Goethem - best known as the model for Degas' sculpture Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen Years. She takes the sparse details known about Marie's life and fleshes them out into a compelling story of dance, family drama, and romance. Just as was most likely the case in the real Marie's life, Degas plays a very small role in the novel - he is her employer a ...more
Nov 08, 2008 Sheri rated it did not like it
Thought I might like it at first, but her conditions never improved, she was kind of stupid, and she got with the wrong guy. I finished it thinking, "WOW that was a waste of time."
Sonya   ~*Why Do We Build The Wall?*~ Schuyler  (no more RP invites)
"Tonight I'm gonna dance
for all that we've been through
but I don't wanna dance
If I'm not dancing with you."
- Taylor Swift, "Holy Ground"

Initially, this was a 4-star read for me. Carolyn Meyer's books tend to be on the kiddish side of YA and there were some cringe-worthy sentences in the beginning.
That was my favorite part. I loved to jump!

I also wasn't terribly fond of Antoinette who seemed like the archetypal (pardon the potential offensive-ness) blond slut meant to make the main character
Marie, Dancing is a novel about Marie van Goethem, who is the model of Edgar Degas’s sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Marie is a dancer at the Paris opera. She hopes one day to be the star. When she is approached by Edgar Degas to be the model for his new project, she is flattered. She hopes that this model will help her become internationally famous. While Edgar Degas is working passionately on his new piece of artwork, Marie struggles with poverty and has to make tough decisions and sac ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Lyndsey rated it liked it
I have been anxious to read this book since I read The Painted Girls by Marie Buchanan. That book was one of the best novels I've read in several years and I think about it often. Since it too was centered on young Marie, I was dying to continue living her tale.

I should have read this one first. I admit, my love of Buchanan's tale clouded my judgement of this novel. Meyer's writing was fine and her spin on this young girl's life was honest; it's not that I didn't find it enjoyable... but it just
Dec 23, 2014 Lola rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite things about school is, surprisingly, French class. My school's French program is kind of awesome, and it's probably because of my French teacher. Madame is probably the craziest person I've ever met, but she LOVES French. Her whole life is French and teaching it. She doesn't just make you memorize phrases. You speak the language, learn the culture, and enjoy the food. Because of her, I'm in the French club and French Honor Society. It is also because of her that I am familia ...more
Definitely an interesting read. I chose this one as part of my book challenge in which I was to "Read a book about a subject you wish you could have studied in school." My heart still aches when I see talented dancers perform--something I will never be able to do. And while I can't dismiss the sweetness of my girlhood dreams to be a ballerina, I'm grateful in the long run that I didn't become one. This book was a bit of a reassurance of that "choice." Besides, I think music was more my calling i ...more
Jul 02, 2012 John rated it really liked it
3.5* Fabulous history and premise with a likable main character...Just got to be a bit much near the end. A lot of depressing stuff happens at once, and I'm not a huge fan of having the narrator basically tell you everything else that happens in their life. I feel like the story really didn't need it, and it would have allowed closure without being so...finalized. There's also the feeling of the drunk mother being flat (she's drunk and she's not around, so what more do we ever learn about her?) ...more
Aug 28, 2012 Drucilla rated it it was ok
Shelves: m
This two star review definitely falls under subjective rating. I really liked the writing style of the book and there was nothing wrong with the structure. My problem was with the story. The author states that not much is known about Marie von Goethem so she had to build a story around the few facts she did have. I understand some of the facts are sad, but the author didn't have to make the story depressing. Meyer sets up a few positive aspects of Marie's life only to destroy them to make way fo ...more
Kristina Sponseller
Aug 12, 2014 Kristina Sponseller rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 05, 2014 Brianna rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book and have read it multiple times. The end did annoy me a bit though. This book also introduced me to Edgar Degas, who just so happens to be my favorite artist now.
Apr 23, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
This is a fictionalized account of what might have been the story of the young ballerina who inspired Degas' sculpture "Little Dancer, Age 14", apparently based on the few facts that are actually known about the real girl. Young Marie lives with her mother and two sisters in Paris. She agrees to model for Degas in order to earn extra money to support her family since her father is dead and her mother is an alcoholic. The description of what life must have been like in Paris in the late 1800s is ...more
Andrea Wall
Aug 14, 2011 Andrea Wall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. The world captured me and I raced through this book in an afternoon. I had never heard of Marie or the statue before, but now I really want to see the original in person. :D :D
A sad story, heartwarming at the same time.
I find it mind boggling at how dedicated they are to their dance!!! Honestly I don't think I could do it!!
Mostly what I loved about this book was Marie herself. Despite all the crappy stuff that happens to her, and her crappy life in general, she stays
Read it years ago, it affected me so much, not sure why. I need to read it again.
Apr 09, 2016 Liz rated it really liked it
I read this a long time ago, it was okay, really sad
Apr 06, 2016 MJ rated it really liked it
I remember loving the #aesthetic of this book as a kid
Best book ever I love it It has such an interesting plot.
Jun 13, 2012 Kayla rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
I loved this book. Carolyn Meyer was my favorite author around middle school and I'm so glad I've rediscovered a new book by her. The story was captivating, and I loved how it didn't really focus on the statuette and instead focused on Marie's life. I must admit, though, that I was incredibly surprised and scandalized by (view spoiler). I am not going to lie; not in my WILDEST dreams did I see that coming! I was unsure of it when I bought it, but now I ...more
May 26, 2010 Madalyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: older girls interested in Historical Fiction
Man, I really hate books that have endings where the lovers can't be together! This is the only thing that stopping me from adding it to my all-time favorites list. this is a wonderfully awful book about the model for Degas's statuette 'Little Dancer, aged fourteen' Marie and her fight to keep her family together in the servival of the fittest world of France, 19th century. The True life of dancers then, just how Degas was trying to show it with his gorgeous little statue. I'm excited to read mo ...more
May 12, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
The beauty and sparkle of dance, music, and art are juxtaposed in this delightful novel against the squalid, seemingly hopeless circumstances of Marie's homelife. Her lucky encounter with Monsieur Degas is the big break that seems may turn her life around.

Meyer beautifully imagines the relationship that develops between this unlikely pair--the "little dancer" and the eccentric, middle-aged artist, a tale inspired by Degas's famous sculpture--"Little Dancer Aged Fourteen." What a treat for the im
Feb 24, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it
Marie, Dancing is truly a fantastic book. I picked it up at random while perusing my local library's shelves, and decided to give it a try. I finished it over the snowy weekend, and kept thinking about it for days. Marie's heartbreaking expulsion from the opera was extremely touching. I used to dance ballet, and this book sure did bring back memories! I remembered all of my good, and not-so good times dancing. I highly recommend this book, please give it try!
Apr 24, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
Loved this book!
Nov 19, 2008 Deepa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any one.
Recommended to Deepa by: no one.
This is a touching story about the model of The Young Dancer Aged Fourteen Years. I enjoyed looking through the eyes of a struggling young ballerina growing up supporting a promiscuous sister, alcoholic mother and younger sister. The book describes her struggle to find food, money and a better situation. It's a good book that describes the cruelty of the Paris Ballet system and life in poverty stricken France. I would highly recommend it.
Liz Chapman
May 27, 2010 Liz Chapman rated it liked it
I love historical fiction. A simple, heart-wrenching read...similar to "Ella Enchanted" although not quite as engaging/wonderful. Based on what little is known of Marie Van Goethem, the young girl who served as the model for Degas' only (and most famous) statue "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen." The story is interesting and the characters beautiful. A good fast escapist read; especially appealing to artists/dancers/France-o-philes.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 22, 2015 10:47AM  
  • The Melting Season
  • Dancing Through Fire (Portraits, #1)
  • On Pointe
  • A Dance of Sisters
  • Dancing on the Inside
  • Darkness Under the Water
  • Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You
  • Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal
  • Breaking Pointe: A Ballet Novel
  • Defining Dulcie
  • A Time for Angels
  • Tour de Force: A Love Story
  • Tutu Much (Dance, #1)
  • Tender
  • Snowfall
  • I am Rembrandt's Daughter
  • Someday Dancer
  • The Sugarless Plum
Carolyn Meyer is as versatile a writer as you will find. Along with historical fiction and realistic novels for young adults she has written nonfiction for young adults and books for younger readers on topics as diverse as the Amish, the Irish, Japanese, Yup'ik Eskimos, a rock band, rock tumbling, bread baking, and coconuts. And ten of her books have been chosen as Best Books for Young Adults by t ...more
More about Carolyn Meyer...

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