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*Starred Review* Beautifully capturing bohemian Paris in the late nineteenth century, Black Venus follows the rise and fall of the poet and translator Charles Baudelaire and his tempestuous relationship with his Haitian mistress, Jeanne Duval. The gritty streets of Paris’ Left Bank, the opulent life of aristocrats, and the dingy cabaret clubs combine to provide a rich backdrop to the love-hate story that unfolds between Baudelaire and Duval. Muse of many Parisian artists, Duval sits for paintings by Manet and inspires some of Baudelaire’s finest erotic poems, becoming one of the most mysterious beauties of her time. Meanwhile, Baudelaire seeks to defend his famous collection of poetry, Les Fleurs du Mal, against public charges of obscenity while at the same time sinking into an opium- and alcohol-induced depression. MacManus, managing director of the Times Literary Supplement, creates a gritty and engrossing world in this beautifully crafted narrative, which will leave readers swooning—and reaching for their favorite recording of La Bohème. --Heather Paulson
“Beautifully capturing bohemian Paris in the late nineteenth century, Black Venus follows the rise and fall of the poet and translator Charles Baudelaire and his tempestuous relationship with his Haitian mistress, Jeanne Duval. … MacManus, managing director of the Times Literary Supplement, creates a gritty and engrossing world in this beautifully crafted narrative, which will leave readers swooning--and reaching for their favorite recording of La Bohème.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“Historical romance fans with an interest in Baudelaire or a penchant for 19th-century Paris will enjoy this novel.” ―Library Journal
“Through the clear narrative, readers are presented with a portrait of a complex relationship that grew within the decadent world of Parisian artists, poets and performers.” ―RT Book Reviews
“Very engaging and evocative of the Decadent Movement of Paris in the late 19th century, … I would recommend this book to any who are interested in Baudelaire, his poetry, reclaimed women's history, or late 19th-century Paris.” ―Historical Novels Review
“This was a captivating novel that shed light on more than just what we already knew on Baudelaire. But what I appreciated most was this new portrayal of history's much maligned Jeanne Duval. James MacManus brought forth a side of Jeanne that was easier to understand and even have compassion for. Black Venus is an exquisite read.” ―The Examiner
“Captures the avant-garde scene of Paris in the mid-nineteenth century…. MacManus skillfully recreates Baudelaire's world with verve and imagination and renders a believable fictional interpretation of two very tempestuous personalities and their motives.” ―The Hudson Review
“A beautiful and gripping novel. A world that will entice you in and keep you reading until the end.” ―Kate Williams, author of The Pleasures of Men
“A wonderful book.” ―Imogen Robertson, author of The Paris Winter
“An engrossing, moving portrait of doomed love and genius.” ―The Sunday Times (UK)
“A vivid portrait of Paris during a turbulent period in its history, as well as an insightful exploration of the often self-destructive nature of genius.” ―Daily Mail (UK)
“Blending mystical fantasy with contemporary science, MacManus weaves an otherworldly tale of one man's frenzied search for identity and fantastic quest for survival.” ―Booklist on The Language of the Sea
“This is one of those rare things, a passionate book, written with feeling. Gripping drama plus well-drawn characters and a wonderfully absorbing and moving read.” ―Daily Mail (UK) on The Language of the SeaSee all Editorial Reviews
Black Venus is set in Paris in 1842. Charles Baudelaire is 21 years old, a budding poet, impeccably dressed, and smitten with a 32-year-old Haitian cabaret singer, Jeanne Duval,... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Martina A. Nicolls
Having squandered a small private fortune on drink, opium and all the other delights of the mid-19th century Parisian demimonde Charles Baudelaire translated Edgar Allan Poe for a... Read morePublished 15 months ago by CRF Smith, Guernsey
I have to say I ran hot and cold with this book. I found the characters memorable but all unlikable. They were all quite shallow, which I believe MacManus intended. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Teddy
Disclaimer- I received a free book for my honest opinion.
Charles Baudelaire is a "starving" poet in the 19th century. Read more
Beaudelaire in nineteenth century Paris- a Bohemian haven for artists...
Living off his inheritance, Beaudelaire is an aspiring poet who lives his life high on late... Read more
When I read the synopsis for Black Venus, it immediately grabbed my attention, with its mentions of Paris, artists, and bohemians, I immediately thought Toulouse-Lautrec and the... Read morePublished on May 15, 2013 by W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada
I thought Black Venus was a truly great read...you can't go wrong when the story contains the famous Charles Baudelaire, the pampered-mama's-boy-over-indulged-poet, Jeanne Duval,... Read morePublished on May 8, 2013 by Beth DiIorio