Quick Thoughts on The Painted Girls and Calling Me Home

Publisher: Riverhead
Publication Date: January 2013
Categories: Literary, Historical
Source: Library
1878 Paris. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir.

My Quick Thoughts:
Ahh, historical fiction. When you are done right I LOVE you with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns! The Painted Girls is done right. Paris, poverty, alcoholism, ballet, theater, prison, love, sisters, Edgar Degas! A seriously fantastic read that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 2013
Categories: Contemporary Women, Historical
Source: Library
Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It’s a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.

Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle’s guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.

My Quick Thoughts:
I enjoyed when the book took me back to Isabelle’s youth in the 1940’s. While I was reading Dorrie’s present-day tale I just wanted to get back to Isabelle’s past. This subject matter has been done, and done better. I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading Calling Me Home but take it for what it is: a decent read.

Have you read either of these? Do you plan on it?

28 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts on The Painted Girls and Calling Me Home

  1. So glad you loved The Painted Girls! It is fantastic, and you're right, it is just done right. I'm hoping it will be nominated for the Giller Prize this year.


  2. THAT'S ALL YOU'RE GOING TO GIVE ME ABOUT PAINTED GIRLS??? Well Jenn, job well done because I'm more curious about this book than I've been yet. And I do have it on my shelf.On another note–I found a package for you in the mess of my living room. It's now in my car and the plan is to pop by the post office on the way home. Gah. 😉


  3. Painted Girls is on my to-read list and it just moved higher due to your glowing recommendation…I love historical and cultural fiction! Calling me Home was on my list too but I guess it can wait just a bit longer. Always enjoy your thoughts and recommendations.


  4. Muahahaha, I'm evil that way 😉 I do hope you get to it soon! Ohhh yes, I seem to recall there was a book you were sending, lol. I can't even remember what it was, ha! I'm terrible about getting to the PO, don't feel bad!


  5. The Painted Girls sounds my sort of book, historical theatre is so interesting to read about. I would like to read Calling Me Home, but think I'd likely find the same as you, that the past sections are better. It is difficult not to want to skip sections in books like that.


  6. Ok, I bought Buchanan's first novel but couldn't get into it. This sounds like something I would really, really like. You should read The Confidant if you enjoyed it because they sound kind of similar. Ok, so maybe just historical fiction with a little bit of scandal. I totally agree that historical fiction is so great if done right!!


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