Marie, Dancing by Carolyn Meyer: A Book Review

Marie, Dancing
Author: Carolyn Meyer
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Release Date: 2007
Pages: 260
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: The music soars. The curtain lifts.

     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.

     My Review: Marie, Dancing is a novel about Marie van Goethem, who is the model of Edgar Degas’s sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Marie is a dancer at the Paris opera. She hopes one day to be the star. When she is approached by Edgar Degas to be the model for his new project, she is flattered. She hopes that this model will help her become internationally famous. While Edgar Degas is working passionately on his new piece of artwork, Marie struggles with poverty and has to make tough decisions and sacrifices to save her family.

     In the beginning, Marie is optimistic, and is full of ideals, hopes, and dreams. After Degas no longer needs her for his artwork, Marie struggles with poverty and her broken family. Her mother does not care about her children. Her older sister, Antoinette, is selfish. The only person whom she is close to is her younger sister, Charlotte. She takes Charlotte under her wing, and does everything she can to support her, including sacrificing her own happiness.

    I’ve read Carolyn Meyer books in my young teens, and it is because of her that I love historical fiction. Carolyn Meyer has been one of my favorite authors, and I cherished every book I read of her. When I read this book, I expected that I would love it as I did her Young Royal series. However, this book was a big disappointment for me. The beginning of the book started out well when Edgar Degas approached her to be his model for a sculpture, but after Degas and Marie stopped interacting, it became a tough read for me. It had very little plot, and the story became dry.

     Overall, this book is about family, sacrifice, and acceptance. The message of the book is that if one door closes another opens. Marie finds that not everything happened the way she wanted to, but she finds happiness and contentment in her own circumstances. I recommend this book to art lovers. However, I believe that there are better books out there about Marie van Goethem. I felt that this was not Carolyn’s Meyer’s best work, and I feel that this book is quite forgettable.

Rating: 2 ½  out of 5 stars.


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