Marie and Antoinette van Goethem are 2 of 3 sisters who live with their recently-widowed mothe...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Marie and Antoinette van Goethem are 2 of 3 sisters who live with their recently-widowed mother in the late 1800s in Paris. Antoinette, the eldest of the sisters, works as an extra in the controversial play L'Assommoir and is adamant to not become a laundress like their absinthe-drunk mother. Marie and Charlotte both begin ballet classes at the Paris Opéra but while Charlotte has the angelic look and determination of a ballerina, it is Marie that captures the attention of many - including Edgar Degas. She begins modelling for the artist where she will then become the model for his famous statuette Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. The two elder girls soon get wrapped up in a life that seems to be spinning out of control, faced with many crossroads that test their morals and comforts.
I cannot sing enough praise about this book. It has everything that I love in it: Paris, ballet, a crime to solve and it's written by a Canadian author. The Painted Girls is told in alternating points of view, switching back and forth and watching the story unfold from the eyes of Marie and Antoinette. The reader gets a fuller picture of what is going on even if the sisters themselves don't know the whole story.
The narrative was interjected at times with newspaper articles discussing the murders that were taking place in the city, and the "analysis", as it were, of people with certain physical attributes more likely to be tied to criminal behaviour. This was a really interesting subject to broach, and eventually takes on even more relevance, as there is constant mention throughout the book of Charlotte being cute and Marie wasn't. The idea that Buchanan brings forward the correlation between how one looks, their status in society and how their future is to unfold closely linked was a thought provoking aspect to the overall book. The sisters don't want to end up like their mother but, at their lowest points, wonder if they are doomed to the same fate.
The Painted Girls is an amazingly researched coming-of-age story; full of mystery, determination, hope and drama - all set among the late 1800s Parisian ballet. C'est magnifique.(less)
In a futuristic society, everyone is divided into 5 factions which form the basis and g...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
In a futuristic society, everyone is divided into 5 factions which form the basis and guidance in which they must lead their lives; of honesty, intelligence, bravery, selflessness and peacefulness. These factions were set up to maintain order and upon turning 16, an aptitude test is administered to the young people in the society to determine where they belong in society. Beatrice Prior has never felt like she belonged in the faction that she was raised in, and after the results of her test are announced, she discovers the reason why – she might not belong to any one group alone. Once Beatrice makes her choice, she must live up to the expectations and live with the decisions she has made while realizing that the harmonious society that she’s grown to know isn’t all that it seems.
Like with another highly recommended book, I can’t believe it took me this long to get to Divergent – what a phenomenal read. Roth is well-versed in the world that she’s created and satisfyingly sets up the first in a trilogy. There were times that I felt it reminded me of a mix of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Not in the story context (and I’m by no means directly comparing these three books), but certain elements of it – such as being divided up into factions (“Houses”) that are so distinctive, the “new kids in school” feel to groups of characters, or the intense training that the new initiates go through, definitely gave a familiar nostalgic feel to the previously aforementioned books. While it did take me a little bit to grasp & remember which faction meant what virtue, Roth does a subtle but steady reminder of what is what to help the readers be completely immersed in her story.
I also loved that Beatrice is such a strong character in the book. Her personality and relationships with those around her drive the story of the book as much as the plot itself. She’s a regular teenage girl with complicated and confusing feelings to her family and friends, especially under such stressful situations.
Overall a fantastically captivating read. At just under 500 pages, I was surprised how quickly I flew through this. Thank goodness I don’t have to wait for the next book to come out! If you haven’t read Divergent yet, what are you waiting for? Don’t make the same mistake I made by waiting so long to get to it!