Marie, Dancing

Marie, Dancing

3.76 (1,093 ratings by Goodreads)
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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, she dreams about supporting her family without being corrupted like most young dancers. She dreams about a life as a ballerina on the stage of the Opéra. And she dreams about being with her true love. In this deeply moving, historically based account, Carolyn Meyer examines the life of the model for Edgar Degas's most famous sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Includes an author's note.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 260 pages
  • 114.3 x 175.3 x 20.3mm | 181.44g
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0152058796
  • 9780152058791
  • 669,595

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Review quote

"As with her Young Royals series, Meyer's ability to sweep readers to another time and place while bringing historic figures to life once again results in a mesmerizing novel. . . . Heart-wrenching and enlightening, this gritty story celebrates artistic accomplishment even as it reveals the human suffering often required to achieve it."--Publishers Weekly (starred review), 11/17/05
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Rating details

1,093 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 26% (284)
4 35% (387)
3 29% (319)
2 8% (83)
1 2% (20)

Our customer reviews

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 the place where they're forced to live can only be described as squalor. Marie knows their family--made up of Mother, Tante Helene, older sister Antoinette, and younger sister Charlotte--are poor and destitute. The only thing that brings joy to Marie's life is dancing in the Paris Opera. Ballet is her life, along with the life of both of her sisters, enrolled under the tutelage of Madame Theodore at the ballet school. Things soon change, though, for Marie and her entire family. Antoinette is being wooed by much older, and much wealthier men, and although she promises to send them money when she's set up as a mistress by her benefactor, she never does. But when Marie meets Edgar Degas and he asks her to pose for him, Marie prays that her life is about to change forever. And change it does, but not in the ways she had suspected. Mother is still drinking, Charlotte is the only girl of the three who shows real promise as a dancer who can make it her career, and her love interest, Jean-Pierre, has asked her to wait for him while he makes a name and a home for the two of them. It's only within the safety and glory of Degas's studio, or while on the stage of the Opera that Marie feels secure that her life will improve--until the day she's dismissed from the School, Antoinette asks her to play nursemaid to her unborn child, and Jean-Pierre asks her to move away from Paris, the only home she's ever known. Carolyn Meyer has brought the world of Paris, art, and dance to vivid life in MARIE, DANCING. This is a story of a girl who only wants a better life, some small pleasure within this dreary existence. And although posing for Degas doesn't change Marie's life in the way she had planned, it definitely does change it more than she could have ever dared hope or more
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