I find these questions very interesting, and apparently, so does Elizabeth Ross, the author of Belle Epoque. Set in turn of the twentieth century Paris with the Eiffel Tower being built in the background, the protagonist Maude ran away from her provincial home to find a more exciting life. Nearly destitute, she takes a job as a repoussoir, a plain girl hired to make her society client appear more beautiful by contrast. As Maude begins to regard her client Isabelle as more of a friend than income, she finds that she must make some difficult choices.
This book reminds me a lot of We Were Liars in that they both look at the question of how people play roles in elite Society. The drive for status will cause many to be exactly what they believe that role requires, wearing a mask that hides reality.
2015 RITBA nominee