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In the city of lights at the dawn of a new age here is an unforgettable story of great love great art—and the most painful choices of the heartKathryn Wagner transports readers to an era of light and movement with this fresh and vibrantly imagined portrait of the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas as told through the eyes of a young Parisian ballerina An ambitious and enterprising farm girl Alexandrie enters the prestigious Paris Opera ballet with hopes of catching the eye of one of the ballet's wealthy patrons—thereby securing not only her place in society but her family's financial future But her plan is soon derailed when she falls in love with the enigmatic artist whose paintings of the private off stage lives of the ballerinas scandalized society and revolutionized the art world As Alexandrie is drawn deeper into Degas’s art and Paris’s darkest secrets she will risk everything for her dreams of love and of becoming the ballet's star dancer


10 thoughts on “Dancing for Degas

  1. says:

    This is the kind of book that was made for negative star ratings which unfortunately are not an option I would assign this one a minus 2 stars This book is so bad that I just want it out of my life I got as far as page 189 then had it sitting around for weeks I kept telling myself I should finish it and write a review because it was a First Reads win Dumb on my part since I now know for certain that reviewing First Reads books has no bearing on future wins The first 106 pages of the book seem pretty promising but don't be fooled into wasting your time On page 107 the author suddenly switches verb tense and writing style FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON From there on out the book is purely awful It's a very repetitive account of catty young Paris ballerinas stabbing each other in the back and competing for the attentions of wealthy men who are looking for ballerinas to take as mistresses Even the main character's association with Degas is bland and repetitive This story had great possibility as historical fiction but it's really just bad chick lit set in the 19th century I realize this is an uncorrected proof so I'll be fair and not uote the numerous instances where the author changes verb tense WITHIN THE SAME SENTENCE I'm convinced however that it's shoddy writing and not just proofreading errors


  2. says:

    Liked this book because I like historical fiction about art artists dance and dancers It was a good story not perfect by any means but one that I looked forward to picking up and continuing Would recommend to readers who enjoy Paris the ballet andor Degas as a part of a novel Also makes me want to review Degas' art


  3. says:

    Not a lot here for discriminating readers The first parts of the plot are predictable and the end abrupt and not well connected to preceding events Most of the characters are one dimensional and there is little emotional nuance to plumb As historical fiction the book lacks a really distinctive sense of nineteenth century Paris Disappointing as the situation and scenes of the action have potential Unfortunately this book is a great example of the telling vs showing that writing teachers warn against And like another reviewer I didn't know why the author shifted tenses mid book In the publisher's discussion with author at back of book Wagner says her upcoming work is lighter I find Dancing for Degas lightnot because of the topic matter which had potential for meatiness but because the reader is told everything mostly in amateur uality prose eg my heart thumped with excitement and left with nothing to ponder or chew on Note I am not a novelist because my own prose would reach about this levelI know my limitations A caveat I did end up caring about Alexandrie the main character and wish this author well in further developing her skills


  4. says:

    Being an artist predispositions me to read books about artists Alas I have found there are GREAT books good books and no so good novels that re create the lives of our master painters Dancing for Degas A Novel is a GREAT book and Wagner is a darn good writer and storytellerThe Impressionists visual art dance Paris politics and women's history play prominent roles in this novel which was obviously well researched Of course liberties were taken After all this is a novel of historical fiction and fiction allows the author to tinker When the author of historical fiction writes well the reader in my opinion does not mind tinkering She does not say Oh but that is not fact because she is too caught up in the story Such was the case with meif you like the sounds of reading about a determined protagonist and a driven antagonist on a stage lit by the fires of socioeconomic and political change and strife if art and artists intrigue you if you like to read about the BS our female antecedents endured pick up this book and dance with a superb writerstoryteller


  5. says:

    Will Alexandrie become a kept woman? Or will she end up with Edgar? Will she become the new etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet? What happens when she turns 25? Does she become a courtesan?A fascinating insight into the dark background to Degas's famous paintings It focusses on the personal and social aspects of the ballerinas rather than the technical aspects of being a dancer It conjures up an interesting worldPerhaps the end is rather rushed but a vivid and fluent read for ballet fans art fans and fiction based on history


  6. says:

    Dancing for Degas by Kathryn WagnerGenre Historical fiction Belle ��poueRating ������������It is the Belle ��poue beautiful era in France a period in French history occurring between 1871 and the beginning of WWI a time of optimism and when literature music theater and the visual arts flourished Alexandrie an ambitious and talented ifarm girl from Southern France has auditioned and been accepted as a ballerina into the Paris Opera Ballet A student of dance from early childhood working for her classes she has been driven by a dream to establish herself as a member of society and the financial future for her family However her dream is not without its darker side Even without injury a ballerina's career can be short lived To secure their future many girls hope for a donation to be made to the ballet to become a mistress to one of the many French businessmen If this does not occur the only avenue to financial security is to become a courtesan when the girl turns 25 years old However both can be avoided if the woman either marries or becomes the ballet's star dancer Alexandrie is hoping for both She has fallen in love with Degas the French Impressionistic artist who uses her as a model for many of his famous works As she works hard to become the prima ballerina she hopes that Degas will take her as a wife Degas Turhowever appears reluctant to have her in no other capacity than as a muse The author describes well the seamier side of the ballet during this period of French history Although the setting of late 19th century Paris was not well developed I thought she did do a good job in describing the plight of the young ballerinas Additionally the interaction between Degas and Alexandrie motivated me to view with a new eye some of the famous of Degas' works especially those of the Opera Ballet


  7. says:

    I found this book to be utterly enthralling Sounds dramatic I know but I just couldn't put it down The story captivates to such a extent that the outside world recedes I was reading it on the train during my morning commute and was so engrossed that I didn't realize my train had been off loaded due to mechanical problems a fellow passenger had to tap me on the shoulder and tell me to exit the train The story is set in the late 1800s in France The main character is a young woman named Alexandrie a poor girl from a small remote village who shows promise in dance and ultimately is selected for the Paris Opera Ballet As her career as a ballerina unfolds Alexandrie learns much about the underworld of the ballet and the rich men who freuent it She also feels enormous pressure from her family who counts on her for support to make certain choices about her career Alexandrie determined to forge her own path and make her own choices uickly becomes acuainted with the artist Edgar Degas who freuents the ballet rehearsals to sketch the ballerinas for his paintings Alexandrie ultimately becomes his favorite model and in spending so much time with him falls in love She finds however that pursuit of her personal dreams is not as simple as falling in love even if that love is returnedI have read numerous historical fiction works about famous artists and what inspires them such as Girl With a Pearl Earring and have enjoyed them What sets this book apart is that it goes beyond merely what inspires the artist and addresses deeper issues of social class the oppression of women societal expectations and the like All of this is told through Alexandrie's perspective a woman of extraordinary strength determination and independence even if peppered with some measure of naivete Adding to the depth of this book is a wonderfully vivid depiction of Paris during that time period Although I found the ending to be a bit abrupt the novel overall was superb and one of the best books I've read in uite some time


  8. says:

    This book wants to be Memoirs of a Geisha meets Girl With a Pearl Earring It is neither It is in fact a very poorly written crashingly boring bastion of eye rollingI started off with excitement a book about Edgar Degas' ballerinas In 1860s Paris At the Paris Opera Ballet YESThat excitement turned to confusion as our protagonist Alexandrie who for no reason at all switches from a serviceable past tense to a god awful present tense on page 105 uotes from Emily Dickinson's Because I could not stop for Death Why is a French country girl reading an English poet? More importantly HOW IS SHE DOING IT BEFORE DICKINSON IS EVEN PUBLISHED? That's right folks our heroine is bleepin' prescient In the 1860s she knows a poem not published until 1890 With that in mind I flipped back a few pages where Alexandrie uoted from The Pickwick Papers Not translated into a French edition until 1887 That took me five minutes on Google Dear Lord The book has no focus on historical events There's no lush immersive description Metaphors are used randomly No mention of Degas's works that were not inspired by his super beautiful muse Alexandrie No passion for ballet Terrible use of present tense Painful dialogueLet’s just look at some of the obnoxious passages About the book's version of Hatsumomo current ballet etoile CornelieAh but she is nearly half your age he says pointedly then smiles kindly at me and leaves the room I step behind the dressing doors and change happy that he defended me and insulted her increasing age You sound like an idiot I say to her as I emerge in my costume I look over at her in revulsion bent over putting on her skirt making her rolls of fat pronounced Yet this horse of a woman is the one that Edgar chose to leave the Green Room withFrom the tiny jealous mind of our protagonist Alexandrie Ladies and Gentlemen And no I didn't bunch all the text together One of the worst things in this book is that lines of dialogue from different characters are packed together in the SAME PARAGRAPHThis book reads as bad fanfiction in that it has nothing to the plot but romance giggles from best friend catty jealousy towards everything female everyone male admiringwanting our heroine but there is no sex No eroticism None at all Just unabashed slut shaming as you saw abovePoor Cornelie Without addressing anyone further Edgar steers me away from the group “You were right about her he whispers in my ear and I breathe a silent sigh of relief The night was a ploy and I wasn't even able to make the contacts I had hoped to with her around Her behavior proved to be uite embarrassing and believe me I find her less humorous and annoying because of it I nod my head taking a moment to form the proper answer I want to jump up and down and yell “Of course I was right why did it take this long for you to see it? Anyone who spends one minute with her can tell she's nothing but a brash whoreDon’t get me started on the ballet aspect Really don’t But as one other reviewer already said if I was the Paris Opera Ballet I’d think about suing The offensive notion that back in the day by age 25 dancers HAD TO become literal prostitutes pimped out by the Ballet Master or be kicked out of the companyOne last thing If Alexandrie is so devoted to dance why don’t we hear about the roles she’s dancing? Her struggles? Her FEET? Anything about the fascinating world of the mid nineteenth century ballet? I’m supposed to believe she’s this great dedicated ballerina who loves dance when she doesn’t even take the reader into why? She doesn’t tell the plot of ANY ballets or how she relates emotionally to the characters she’s portraying Have we mentioned the novel’s third act nonsense about the Paris Opera Ballet sanctioning a public competition between three sujets soloist dancers for the role of etoile view spoilerafter Cornelie is strangled to death because she pushed a john too far REALLY hide spoiler


  9. says:

    I wish there were pictures whenever Degas' sketches or pastels were mentioned I was uite apprehensive reading this book I packed it for a trip and it had to kill time on a 4 hour flight and my friends' averaged reviews were uite dismal I thought it was rather good perhaps a 325 Unlike The Luncheon Of The Boating Party this wasn't about a single paintingpastelsketch but just Degas' work sketching at the ballet during the 1860s The story of a poor ballerina could have stood on its own except the ending would have been different This was a historical fiction of French ballerinas than about Degas I'll have to take Wagner's word that the post performances were correct In the afterword she writes that it was the mothers who weed out the gentlemen callers which I would imagine would make for even drama than the Ballet Master


  10. says:

    From what I have personally seen this book is current in the way the dancers treat each other From the outside looking in you have no idea how competitive those woman are All the public sees is the grace and poise radiated from the stage I found it illuminating what is revealed about the life of dancers off the stage in Paris during this particular time period I would hope ballet companies no loger expect woman dancers to prostitute themselves for contributionsForget the love story It's weak at best The interesting part of this book lies within the history the dancers' and their way of life