Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review- The Courtesans




The Courtesans- The Demi-Monde in 19th-Century France, by Joanna Richardson tells the story of several of the most famous courtesans of the century. Every chapter deals with a different woman and her glory days. The chapters read like summaries and if you are interested in reading about detailed dates, time and places; this is the book for you.


The introduction to this book is quite captivating. The rest of the book unfortunately didn’t meet my expectations. The courtesans, who were quite colorful characters with lives to match, sadly did not stand out as they should have. I agree that a certain amount of history is necessary, but when this overshadows the characters themselves, it takes away the flavor.


Besides their lifestyle and artistic careers, important men that indulged in obtaining ‘services’, played a strategic role in the courtesans’ popularity and status. Such were the likes of Napoleon III and other prominent figures. Although it was interesting to read about how these ladies were often in charge of whom they chose to bestow their natural gifts upon; I would have liked a more detailed look into their lives and what made each of the courtesans so unique in their own way. This is something which I believe this book failed to do. After having read about each of their lives, these courtesans all seemed the same to me. I was misled by the interesting introduction and beautiful illustrations into reading a book that was more factual than entertaining- A different intention for which I wasn’t prepared for.


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12 comments:

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

Oh, that's too bad...if done right, this could've been a great book!

I keep forgetting...check my blog, I gave you an award =)

Ms. Lucy said...

Amy, first things first: Thank you so much- you're wonderful, and the sweetest:)

About this book...I feel the same way.

Arleigh said...

Have you read Sex with Kings or Sex with the Queen by Eleanor Herman? I think that's more what you're looking for.

Ms. Lucy said...

Arleigh- No, I haven't, but I'm thinking more along the lines of the one you sent me: In the Company of the Courtesan.

Ingrid Mida said...

I appreciate your honest review of this book. I probably would have been tempted to buy it, but I prefer to read books where the characters (whether real historical figures or not) come to life.

Ms. Lucy said...

I agree with you Ingrid. For me, characters need to feel real- I need to hear their story; and there are terrific historical reads that do just that- so it's not impossible. Thanks:)

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

I guess my post didn't go through but if yoiu are interested, Katie Hickman's book Courtesans and VIrigina Rounding's book Les Grand Horizontales are wonderful.

Ms. Lucy said...

Thanks Elizabeth:) Obviously there's so much more to these women and that's what I'd love reading about...what made them real, and how they felt..you know what I mean. I'll look out for the books you've suggested. I'm also going back to your site now to read up on some of those reviews:)

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

I just realized that I have a first edition of this book - it was published in 1967! I bought it years ago in a used bookstore and it is definitly not in mint condition...looks as if someone spilled a whole cup of coffee on it! I will have to look at this new volume and see if it's been edited differently. Thanks, Lucy!
Catherine

Ms. Lucy said...

Catherine- Maybe it was a better read for 1967, and maybe we've come to expect more these days? If you do get to read it, please let me know what you think about it:)

Viola said...

I didn't read this book because I bought it on sale and the print was extremely small. Now I'm glad that I didn't read it!

Katt said...

I read the book (but still unfinished cause...I found it boring) and I must agree with your review. It would definitely be better if each of the women will have a book of their own.