Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

Marie, Dancing

Her life as a dancer was anything but glamorous, but the sculpture of Marie van Goethen has made her famous throughout the art world.

Where I got the idea for this book

While visiting my son, Alan, and his family in Rochester, NY, I went to a museum exhibit of sculpture by Edgar Degas. I was familiar with Degas's paintings of dancers, but I had never seen his sculptures. There I saw the bronze statue, dressed in a real tutu with a real ribbon in her hair and real ballet shoes. It blew me away! There was a label on the sculpture, identifying the model as Marie van Goethem. I wanted to know more about Marie and her life as a dancer, her role as a model, and her future. My research took me to Paris, to the Opera, to the street where she lived, where Degas worked, where the French artists met for coffee, where the American woman, Mary Cassatt, did her finest paintings. It was a wonderful adventure, and I loved writing the book.

What a reviewer wrote:

Readers drawn to historical fiction for lavish, romantic costume drama more than gritty realism may find the story a bit harsh, but the novel scrupulously adheres to the "truth is beauty" philosophy that inspired Degas to sculpt a gangly, somber dancer and call it art.

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