I thought this was a slow starter. To the point were I had to push myself to listen to one more chapter or I would move on to a new story. I am quite glad I stayed with it. I can't even say what I liked about this story .... I just liked it more and more as the story went on. Maybe it's that I have three daughters and can appreciate the different personalities that create a synergy that is difficult to explain but is clearly felt .
I've spent my entire life around the written word - writing it, editing it, teaching it. So, it's no wonder I also love to read it!
There are some things about this novel about poor sisters living in the slums of Paris in the late 1800s that I really liked. For example, the author paints a vivid picture of the place and time so we can almost feel what Marie and Antoinette are going through. When Marie works so hard to pass her ballet exam to move up to the cadre, the reader can feel the poor girl's fatigue. Basically, I liked the story (up to a point) and got caught up in their dramatic situations -- how they both had to work so hard for so little; how they had to deal with their father's death and their mother's alcoholism; how Antoinette is so in love with the loser Emile that you want to just shake her; and how Marie succumbs to her patron, Mr. Lefevre, which nearly ruins her life and almost destroys her future.
The author's senses of verisimilitude of the time and place feels spot-on.
But, there is no joy in this book and, most importantly, very little hope for these characters. It is dreary, depressing and dramatic. It is also somewhat repetitious, as you see similar scenes play out at different times again and again. If the book were shorter, the dreariness wouldn't feel quite so overwhelming. But, it is long and all-encompassing and soon becomes oppressive.
The book is nicely written; the author's use of language is superb. And, she creates an environment that is realistic and characters that you feel for. But, eventually, it was too oppressive an experience. I wanted to like this more than I did...but I just didn't.
The narration was superb, though. I really loved the voices of the two sisters; they were distinct and yet had similar tones.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
When historical fiction is done well, it really transports you to a time in a way that can't be duplicated. I remember reading "The Alienist" for the first time and I could smell the streets of New York in the late 1800s. With many of the rave reviews on this book, I expected the same feel for Paris. It never happened.
The premise of this story is good ... though certainly not original. "Girl with a Pearl Earring" has the same art-comes-to-life basis. While I appreciated a look at the world of ballet in Paris during the time, it wasn't any more revealing than what one would have guessed.
This was a book club selection so I had a chance to hear what others thought about it. My feelings about the book put me in the minority - much like the reviews here and elsewhere. There were many others who thought it was terrific and appreciated the story of the sisters. Clearly we have a different view of historical fiction and how it should be written. This was simply not the book for me nor would I recommend it to others.
I loved the way this was narrated by three women to stand for the three sisters. They each gave a dynamic performance. The story was only historically based but still informative about the history of the Paris Opera Ballet and the times.
What a horrible time in history for women. Painful to read this historical fiction about the lives of the dancers and opera performers during the time Degas was painting them. This author easily transported me into the lives of three sisters struggling to succeed during the late1800's.
It is a heart wrenching story of survival and sisterly love while also trying to obtain their dreams.
The research that went into the story. Also the way the author used Degas' art and the study of the criminal face to help the listener understand peoples perception. Marie and Antoinette's characters were well developed. The imagery was wonderful. Not being a dancer, I appreciated the detail that went into the descriptions of the steps and emotions the girls experienced while dancing.
well modulated voices and the use of French accents to make it feel more authentic. The man reading Figaro was a great touch to help listeners shift gears.
maybe The Degas Dancers?
This is one of those books that make a reader want to learn more about the subject.
Did not grab my attention initially but once it did I loved it. Great character development in a historical setting with literary liberties
A creative backstory behind Degas' dancers, what their lives might have been, struggling to survive in old Paris. The characters were fascinating, the narration brought them alive, and the emotional swings of the story kept me anxious to get back for more.
The ultimate multi-tasking is to read a book while driving
I really enjoyed this fact-based back story to Degas' famous sculpture "The little dancer of fourteen years". The two main characters: Antoinette and Marie, were very appealing and engaging. The subject matter, of the difficult lives of the 'petit rats' who barely lived above the poverty line and hoped for deliverance from the Paris Opera was also fascinating and enlightening. The fact that these ballet girls' lives were intertwined with a number of murders that scandalised 1880's Paris all made for a gripping tale.
There were numerous memorable moments, but Marie's audition for the cadre was a lovely moment.
It was fine, but (unlike The Poisonwood Bible) the voices were not individual enough to separate the characters easily.