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MARIE, DANCING by Carolyn Meyer

MARIE, DANCING

By Carolyn Meyer

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-15-205116-3
Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt

The Paris of Degas and the Impressionists was a vibrant and exciting time of artistic accomplishment. One of the most beloved works of art from this time is Degas’ sculpture of “Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen.” From what little is known about the model, a student at the Paris Opera Ballet named Marie Van Goethem, Meyer has fashioned a story of a young dancer who models for Degas to offset the extreme poverty of her home life. Her older sister, also a dancer, is more intent on finding a man who will provide her with an apartment and jewels. Their mother works in a laundry when not falling down drunk from partaking of too much absinthe to drown her own sorrows. Readers with an interest in ballet will find fascinating insights into the strict world of the late 19th-century Parisian ballet. As striking is the juxtaposition of a ballet dancer holding a still pose for the sculpture. Her modeling leads to a fascination with Degas’ art and that of Mary Cassatt, a friend of Degas, while her love interests and her unwillingness to become a mistress of a rich man add flavor to the tale. (Fiction 12+)