July 24, 2007
Three Rivers Press (Division of Random House)
1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019
Paperback and E-Book
Rating: 5 Cups
Victorine Laurent does not have an easy life growing up. Her two aunts treat her as if she does not exist. Aunt Evelyne has a terrible temper and Victorine has the proof on her body. After years of feeding her and caring for her, the aunts cut the apron strings and get rid of her. Victorine is told to find a way to survive because she is not welcome back.
Monsieur Edouard Manet is an artist and he wishes for Victorine to model for him. He pays his models well. It is said each time he finds a woman that inspires him, he not only falls in love with her in the flesh but in the painting, too.
Victorine vows to find a place in the world, and do whatever is necessary, never looking back. At fourteen, her aunts just threw her to the world. With no family and no money, she knows it will be hard but she refuses to let her aunts think she will amount to nothing. She feels she has found her opportunity when she joins the Paris Opera Ballet. Victorine has heard that many young women can find a suitable wealthy man even though it entails becoming a mistress, at least she will not have to live off the streets. There she meets Edgar Degas who introduces her to Edouard, a painter, and suddenly her life changes. Edouard wants Victorine to model for him, but Victorine has a condition. She wishes Edgar to chaperone. Victorine becomes accustomed to the different side of life with art studios and cafes where the elect gather. It is after Victorine decides to pose for Edouard that she finds herself the subject of a nude painting, one that further opens grand doors for her. Unfortunately, as it prompts Victorine into the inner social circle, the dark side of Edouard comes out, leaving Victorine wondering if her charm and determination has gone too far and caused her much sorrow.
The stunning depiction of Mademoiselle Victorine was so magnificent, that for a moment I felt transported to the year 1862. The splendid contrast of Paris, the ballet, and even to the models and the artwork are so vividly crafted. There is even a style of elegance when Victorine is in her bedchambers. The in-depth characters of Victorine and Edouard and the things they must explore in life is so overwhelming, it just blows the reader away. The dialogue is amazing. I really did not care for the aunts. Debra Finerman has created an extraordinary tale taking the reader into many revolving doors in the life of Victorine. With a tale involving politics, poverty, and war, as a woman tries to make a rightful place for herself in the world, this enriching story is absolutely captivating.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
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