In the City of Lights, at the dawn of a new age, begins an unforgettable story of great love, great art—and the most painful choices of the heart.
With this fresh and vibrantly imagined portrait of the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas, readers are transported through the eyes of a young Parisian ballerina to an era of light and movement. An ambitious and enterprising farm girl, Alexandrie joins the prestigious Paris Opera ballet with hopes of securing not only her place in society but her family’s financial future. Her plan is soon derailed, however, when she falls in love with the enigmatic artist whose paintings of the offstage lives of the ballerinas scandalized society and revolutionized the art world. As Alexandrie is drawn deeper into Degas’s art and Paris’s secrets, will she risk everything for her dreams of love and of becoming the ballet’s star dancer?
“A thoroughly engrossing and informative story…Degas’ paintings of the Paris Opera Ballet corps come to life in all their freshness and immediacy.”—Historical Novels Review
“Like Tracy Chevalier, Wagner imagines how layers of meaning pervade works of art, but her real forte is detailing the sexual politics of poverty and evoking the rivalry among dancers, especially between stars and the newcomers who wish to replace them. Wagner’s… abandonment of the masterpiece-in-the-making formula is a nice turn.”—Publishers Weekly
“First-time novelist Wagner skillfully compresses the war into a series of brief letters in this engaging tale illuminating the dark side of French society high and low. With appearances by Degas’ peers Cezanne and Monet, this fascinating visit to a bygone world of art and sex, war and love will draw many.”—Booklist