Degas Must Have Loved a Dancer

DEGAS MUST HAVE LOVED A DANCER - Paperback edition $15 | Hardcover $25

Livingston Press, 2002

“Highly recommend this gem to anyone that loves good fiction, can appreciate lyrical language reminiscent of Flaubert (fine chocolate!) and the obsession one carries for their art.  

It’s the story of two ex-pats in Belgium, Adina and Zachary. Adina, in want of fodder for her fiction, heads to Belgium for a year to work as an au pair for a chain-smoking, disillusioned mother, a perpetually drunk father and a child that is wise beyond his years. A chance encounter with a painter, Zachary (who is lead to Belgium by a wealthy cousin who patrons him with a gallery and a premiere exhibition), in a bus in Prague sparks their obsession for one another. A white-haired Adina (her hair mysteriously falls out in the beginning of the novel and grows back white, the absence of color) and a man that can only paint when she is evoked, fall in love with one another or how each other affects their art. Soon, Adina is writing furiously, feverishly. Stories about the body and the mind and their mutual exclusivity and their intricate ties to each other. Zachary murals Adina, his only vision is her. 

Throughout, Krista is fierce in her philosophy and her prose is never precious, but smart and precise. Each chapter shifts point of view between the two characters and the flow is organic and satisfying. A highly recommended read with an unexpected and climatic ending.” 


“Madsen’s first-person narrative is more than intense, it is intrepid, a sometimes harsh account of longing/love and how that obsession can spur creative instincts. The novel also doubles neatly as a mini-travel narrative, expanding beyond the cliche story of a young American abroad and a coming-of-age tale. The subjects are complex: art, love, sex and the mix of European culture with young American ennui. I read this novel in one night, devouring the prose. Recommend anyone to do the same.” 

A young artist and poet circle about solitary fantasies of one another—each afraid to commit any further after a chance meeting on a bus where the artist sketches the poet, whose hair has turned shockingly white despite her youth. Kismet, every character in the novel repeatedly tells these two. Kismet. How can you not go for it? But . . .

Set in Belgium, where these young Americans work, one to take a nanny’s job, the other to debut his art in a cousin’s gallery, the novel reveals a good deal about the Euro youth scene, while exploring the carpe diem theme in a most devastating manner.