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In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel Paperback – February 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The book opens in Rome. Fiametta, a successful courtesan, leaves the city with her servant and goes to Venice, the city that was famous in this time period for the courtesans that lived there. Venice is a decadent city, filled with sin and vice, and it is through this that Bucino and his mistress must wade in order for her to be successful in her chosen profession. Along the way we run into a variety of interesting characters: a servant with sticky fingers; a Jew who lives in the Jewish ghetto of Venice; a blind healer called "La Draga;" a Turk who is fascinated by Bucino's size; the poet Aretino; the artist Titian; and a variety of Fiametta's clients. Many of the characters were, of course, real people; others, of course, were not. The story that Dunant creates, which mixes what really happened with fiction, is breathtaking.
This book is well-written, and very much like The Birth of Venus, Dunant's 2004 novel that is set in Florence at the end of the fifteenth century. In the Company of the Courtesan has the same kind of qualities, but is a great book in its own way.
Obviously well researched, Dunant's depiction of the Italian Renaissance setting is so realistic as to be magical. She transports the reader to 1527 and keeps them there. This fascinating novel is well fleshed out with historical figures and events.
The story is that of Fiametta, the titular courtesan and her dwarf companion, Bucino. They lose everything they hold dear, and barely escape with their lives when Rome is sacked and destroyed around them. Fiametta's legendary beauty was damaged in an encounter with "Lutheran harpies," and the two voyage to her matriarchal home in Venice to recover.
Sadly Fiametta"s mother has long since died and nothing remains of her fortune. With the help of La Draga, an eerily blind, crippled healer, Fiametta is nursed back to health and works hard to regain her status as the high-class companion to the wealthy and titled men of her time.
All is well until an accident involving Bucino sends him seeking after La Draga. To her misfortune, his discovery of her secret ends in an accusation of witchcraft and subsequent trial.
Dunant's Venice is truly compelling, shown to the reader by the unusually astute observer Bucino, narrator of this story. At times he is companion, helper, business manager, confidant and exotic plaything. He uses his status as a dwarf to full advantage. He is quite a sympathetic character; one can't help but like him for his loyalty to his mistress. He stands by her through thick and thin, even when there is considerable danger to his own skin. Indeed his loyalty makes him reject an offer that, had he accepted, would have set him up in luxury.Read more ›
After a long recuperation she sets out to be the highly desired Courtesan she had been back in Rome. But, clearly she has not recovered as she gets more businesslike & cold as the book advances. Her lovers & friends are well done 7 most have an impact on the general theme. The most interesting relationship in the book is between La Draga & Bucino. their relationship will eventually put Fiammetta into the background, while these two characters play out their dramatic fates. The only minor flaw is that it was a too long, had it been a bit shorter in reaching the end I would have given it 5 stars.
The partnership of the two works extremely well as they escape without much but their lives from Rome which is under siege and then move to Venice to carefully try to rebuild their whole business. Our courtesan has lost her hair and her confidence. With the help of a blind healer, they find their way back into business as usual and then the fun begins with the various and sundry wealthy clients, friends from the past, etc.
There is humor, there is wisdom about human sexuality, there is history and there is a great and touching story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book was not lewd but gave enough detailing that I could imagine how the characters felt and what motivated them.Published 6 days ago by James Cain
Overall, good book. I didn't absolutely love the ending, but enjoyed the book as a whole.Published 1 month ago by Jennifer
This is only one of the many books by Sarah Dunant that I absolutely love - her attention to historical detail and the wonderful story line make a book that you don't want to put... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karen Lee
The characters are so interesting and intriguing. Fiammetta is graceful and clever and the window into Bucino'smind takes us on a journey not only thru a fascinating era bit the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Meredith A McGlohon
I had already read this book years ago, and wanted to re-read. It's as good the second time around. Sarah Dunant does historical fiction so well.Published 2 months ago by FairfaxLady
More than your usual chick lit Historical romance; tracks through interesting period of history. Story is told from the courtesans companion, a dwarf that I can't not visualize as... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Brandon A. Nordin
A wonderful romp through history through eyes of the main character's friend. Beautifully written.Published 6 months ago by L. Clarke
I really enjoyed this "historical" novel. It was well written and you could really empathize with the characters.Published 8 months ago by Uno che piace leggere