Monday, 16 December 2013

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Monsieur LeBlanc leans against the doorframe, his arms folded over a belly grown on pork crackling.

Besides the image of a disgusting guy, there isn't much else to impel one to read on. But for some strange reason the disgusting guy is enough so I read on, and a scene that reminds me of Balzac's work - because of the French names maybe - unfolds. A family of three daughters and a mother have just lost the husband and father and are on the verge of being thrown out onto the street by this M. LeBlanc. I guess this is a theme Balzac touched on once or twice as well - you know, money rules the hardened heart. Charles Dickens may have employed it too, come to think of it.

A story that begins with good people in poverty usually pulls at the heart strings if it's done well without being melodramatic or too sentimental. This opening is neither.

First thing said:

"But, Monsieur LeBlanc, we just put my dead husband in the ground."

This dialogue comes at the end of the first paragraph, so little time is wasted before we hear the characters speak - a definite plus. As well, it's encouraging when the first thing said is something that reveals plot. In this opening, characters begin to tell the back story, their story in their own words, rather than an author dumping paragraphs of back story - which to me usually suggests a lack of writing skill.

In this opening, however, the writing is excellent, and readers who enjoy historical novels - and even those who don't - should easily get pulled into this one right from the first page.

Verdict: Pass

Theodore Moracht

1 comment:

  1. I learned something reading this. Thank you. Of to check the first bit of dialogue in my work in progress.