Today is already our final day of the Literary Sewing Circle focusing on The Painted Girls! I hope you've had the chance to read the book, and both the first and second inspiration posts, and are getting lots of ideas for a project of your own.
The project linkup will be added to the bottom of this post: as soon as you are done your project, just pop a link to your post into the linkup and we will all be able to visit your blog/instagram etc. and explore your creation -- remember, it can be sewn, or knitted, crocheted, embroidered... any textile art that you practice.
|Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash|
Did you enjoy this novel? Did you have a favourite character? Was there a theme which particularly resonated? What part of it stood out for you as your inspiration for your project? Was there anything you didn't like about this novel? Had you heard of it prior to this readalong? Did you recognize any of the character quirks in the story? What did you think of the mix of real people/history and fiction? Do you think that the role of art in any form was clearly defined in this story?
|Photo by Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash|
Here are some of my thoughts on this novel.
I read it first some years ago, and enjoyed my second read. I have a soft spot for stories featuring three sisters, especially when the middle sister has a starring role! (can you tell I'm a middle sister?)
But seriously. I appreciated the way that the author fleshes out all the sisters in this story, and delineates their relationships. Each sister has a distinct personality, and a different essential driving purpose. It's the sisters who keep each other going, since their mother has her own issues to manage.
There is a lot to consider in this novel, from the power of art, to the effect of critics (thanks to Sara for pointing this out in the last book discussion post), to relationships whether sibling or so-called romantic ones, to discussions of what the right thing is in a fraught moral situation. Is gaining an abonné in the ballet any different from working in a fancy brothel, or does it just depend on your options? What opportunities did women have in this era? I think the sisters show a wide range of life choices, both workwise and romantically. And there are men as side characters who are important mostly for their role in Antoinette or Marie's lives -- I appreciated how the story focuses on the women and their inner lives, their relationships, but also investigates their place in the wider world, ie: how they will make their livings.
I'm not generally a huge fan of real people as fictional characters but I thought that Buchanan was able to take what was known about these characters and spin it into a respectful and well-considered fiction. She didn't attribute unfounded or horrible character traits to any of the real people, which is something I have seen in other historical novels and found uncomfortable. Rather she makes a compassionate, probable guess at them and so the characters are sympathetic and complex at the same time.
I also liked the focus on art via Degas -- painting studios, casting bronzes etc, all the discussion of the actual process of art -- and the focus on ballet as a discipline. The scenes in the studio show the work and the ambition driving the performers, and the joy of performance also comes across when Marie or Charlotte get to take the stage. I feel the same of joy in process and routine when I'm stitching or garment sewing, and can only hope to reach that joyful state of flow now and again.
As to my project inspiration...I had many ideas as I was going through the book. The setting really spoke to me, and the idea of clothing fostering movement and lightness took hold. But as I read over the final few pages again while pondering my responses to this book, I was struck by this image of sisterly connection between Marie's daughters:
We take a moment -- Antoinette and I -- standing side by side, shoulders touching, and peering through the window in to the rue de Douai. Matilde holds a feather, rose-colored and magnificent with long strands of the vane wafting in the breeze.... She stops, abrupt, a few steps short of Geneviève and holds out her find. She gives it the little nudge that makes Geneviève understand, and she reaches for the feather, those wispy tendrils of love offered by her sister as a gift.
Thus, my ideas are now floating toward a feathery dress, and I know the perfect one: the Plume (Feather) Dress by Louis Antoinette (there's even a nod to Antoinette there). I'll be looking through my stash to see if I have appropriate fabric there, and will share my full plans once they are set. Although, in our last Literary Sewing Circle round, I did change my project completely between plans and project so who knows! If you are making plans, please share them in the comments, I'd love to see them.
|Photo by Esther Ní Dhonnacha on Unsplash|
What project have you made, inspired by your reading of The Painted Girls? Share a link to your project post here! Links are open until MARCH 31 so you have lots of sewing time to finish and share.
Don't forget that any finished project shared by the deadline will be eligible for a draw for a free pattern code from one of our sponsors, Deer & Doe Patterns or Louis Antoinette. Get your projects in!