The Painted Girls: A Novel - Cathy Marie Buchanan "It is about being born downtrodden and staying that way. Hard work makes no difference, he is saying. My lot, the lots of those around me, were cast the moment we were born into the gutter to parents who never managed to step outside the gutter themselves."

The Painted Girls is a story about fighting inevitability, whether it is in the bones of our faces or the gutter some of us are born in. Marie van Goetham believes that she carries the "physiognomy of a criminal", a heavy shell that surrounds the soul inside of her that seeks to rise, and in trying so hard to distance herself and her sisters from the darkness of the slums of Paris, she brings to fruition a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I want to put my face in my hands" she says, "to howl, for me, for Antoinette, for all the women of Paris, for the burden of having what men desire, for the heaviness of knowing it is ours to give, that with our flesh we make our way in the world." The real-life Marie van Goetham is rumored to have fallen from the stage to the taverns, and it's unknown whether she climbed back up from the streets. Her happy ending in the novel is a bittersweet tribute to the lost girls of Paris who, like the original Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, may have failed to rise completely from the gutters and disappeared from history.