Paris, 1860 but not in the more affluent places, but the slums where existence for many women means either working in a laundry, washing the clothes of the rich or spending your days laying on your back. The dream is always to better yourself or not fall as low as possible.
Mimi Bisset is trying to survive, in a world where she has had to to give up her daughter born out of wedlock to the rich. She will do anything to bring herself up to their level. A chance meeting brings her into a circle of artists. One in particular singles her out; Edouard Manet. Mimi becomes his muse, his model, his pupils and eventually his lover.
Mimi is thrust into another world, a world far away from the one she knows and one that is closer to her own daughter. When a chance encounter brings Mimi close to her daughter, she realises that Manet is harbouring a secret. Mimi must do everything to bring her daughter back to her.
That includes going back to the only place she knows, the slums, the circus and her art. Can this save her and her daughter?
This book takes you into the depths of Paris of a time I knew little of. I recognise the names of the famous artists, but had to look up all their work as it was mentioned throughout the novel. I had a wonderful time, looking at this artwork and marvelling that I knew more than I thought I did!
Whilst Mimi is not a real person, she is certainty a mixture of a number of people named around that time and the story that has been created is beautiful and artistic as it is sad and poignant of the world that struggling female artists lived in, in fact a world where being female is a struggle.
A great example of well researched historical fiction and Helen Fripp is becoming a name to notice in this genre. An excellent read.
Thank you to netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Painter’s Girl is out now.