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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant

Pages: 361

Copyright: 2006

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Renaissance Trilogy


Rating 3 1/2 Crowns

Rather than a tale of virtue and youth, this time Sarah Dunant brings us a journey of love and betrayal, prostitution and loyalty.

We meet our main characters, a courtesan called Fiammetta and her dwarf assistant Bucino in the height of their prowess in Rome. But alas, the city falls to invading forces and these two are barely able to escape with their lives. As we accompany them on their journey to Venice and watch as they are forced to start a new life, we are taken to a world the author has not shown us before.

I read Sarah Dunant's books in half reverse order, her tales of convents and virtuous women coming before this one. And perhaps that is why, as much as I did like this book, I did not fall in love with it as I did her others. The tale is told from the perspective of Bucino, and he is charming enough, but he is not a lovely young lady.

The book tells most of the story between their downfall in Rome through their fortunes in Venice. What I found myself really wanting was more of a history of Fiammetta, rather than the little bits of background we get through other means. Because I feel that Sarah Dunant is so good at telling these things from the beginning, I wanted to see the roots of a courtesan life. What is it like to be brought up by your own mother to service men until you are too old to continue doing so? Does the courtesan ever wish for a different life, try to find a way out?

Yet, because I have read so much about marriages during this time period, it was very interesting to read a story of the semi-alternative. All lives are run by men in this time period, but to an extent, the life of a courtesan seems a little more free. Fiammetta is able to run her household basically as she wishes, and it's refreshing to see that as much as she can, she makes her own fate.

I admire the author sticking to history as much as she can, and perhaps one of my favorite parts is her "Author's Note" at the end. It's a nice tie-in between real life and the fiction she has spun for us.

On the whole, it is a good book and one I'm glad to have in my collection, for I will undoubtedly read it again.

Lady in Waiting
Thanks to Crystal from I Totally Paused for this wonderful guest blogger review!


Blodeuedd said...

Sounds good since I have it :)

Patti said...

I have this book too - for some reason I only read halfway through...I don't know why. I'll have to pick it up and try again!

Ms. Lucy said...

I loved this book, I think particularly because of the details in the setting and the way of life at the times-especially of a courtesan's life. Tut I agree with you that it would have been even more interesting to have read more on Fiametta's history- and perhaps in a woman's-point of view too... Thanks for the review- YOu raise solid points:)

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

This one sounds good, I too like to tie in to actual events.

Dottie :)

Lisa Yarde said...

This sounds wonderful. I'd seen in some time ago and thought it looked interesting, but never bought it. Now I will, thanks for the recommendation.

dorolerium said...

Patti - I found the second half easier than the first as well, I think I liked reading about their upward climb a lot better than their established life in Rome. Hope you like it when you finish it!

Crystal from I Totally Paused

dorolerium said...

Ms. Lucy - I'm so glad you liked the book, and my review! I kind of hope Sarah Dunant writes another book about Fiammetta with her history from her POV, I think it would be really interesting. And I'd love to see what happens after this book ends!

Crystal from I Totally Paused

dorolerium said...

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) - It was definitely good, I think you'll like it. The author actually mentions in the note at the end that several of the characters were actual people during the time period, and she wove in fiction around real events they participated in, which I loved. Hope you like it!

Crystal from I Totally Paused

dorolerium said...

Lisa Yarde - I hope you like it! It's definitely interesting, I loved the look at an alternative lifestyle during this period in history :)

Crystal from I Totally Paused

dorolerium said...

Blodeuedd - You'll have to let me know what you think when you read it, I really hope everyone likes it!

Crystal from I Totally Paused


i wonder if i will ever have a whole day where i do not add a book to my with list...i will certainly not be today! thanks for the review

ibeeeg said...

I should make myself a tag on goodreads marked as "historical fiction" as I am finding so many books in this genre that I want to read. This is one I would like to try and read.
Thanks for the review.