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In the Company of the Courtesan
In the Company of the Courtesan
Author: Sarah Dunant
"My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor's army blew a hole in the wall of God's eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment." — Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with t...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781400063819
ISBN-10: 1400063817
Publication Date: 2/14/2006
Pages: 400
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 125 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed In the Company of the Courtesan on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
A beauty of a book! I liked this better than Dunant's The Birth of Venus. She has a wonderful descriptive talent. Her characters are so well developed and real, you are sad to let them go at the end. I could feel and smell the fog through her words: "Outside the city is changing. While we have been talking of God's laws and secrets of the earth, a cold fog has come rolling off the sea, pushing through the alleys, sliding over the water, rubbing up against the cold stone. As I walk, the street falls away behind me, the shop's blue awning lost within seconds. People move like ghosts, their voices disconnected from their bodies; as fast as they loom up, the disappear again. I can barely see the ground under my feet or tell if the gloom is weather or the beginning of dusk." Loved it, loved it, loved it.
reviewed In the Company of the Courtesan on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Thoroughly enjoyable read. Set in Venice in the mid 1500's, while it is a Historical Novel, it is basically fact based, and therefore an excellent window into the Venice of old. I could not put it down!
reviewed In the Company of the Courtesan on + 146 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I thourghly enjoyed this book. The historical part was right on! I love books that show me a glimpse of a life so different from my own. A religous war, a dwarf and a Courtesan, who could have thought of a better mix?
reviewed In the Company of the Courtesan on + 412 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Story of Fiammetta, a courtesan who left Rome after it was sacked by the Spanish and Germans, and moved back to her hometown of Venice with Bucino, a dwarf serving as her companion and assistant. At the ripe old age of 21, having been a whore for six years and now in her prime, Fiammetta seeks to rebuild her house and her power base in 1520's Venice. Once again, the author uses her verbal paintbrush to unveil a unique portrait of the city, the times, the people, the mood of the era and makes you wish you were there despite the unpleasant side of it all. I enjoyed this book quite a lot, but it didn't quite have the magical sparkle that The Birth of Venus had.
reviewed In the Company of the Courtesan on + 87 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I'm a big fan of historical fiction, and really liked Dunant's "The Birth of Venus." This one took me a few more pages to get into than the other, but I really ended up enjoying it. It follows a prostitute's fleeing to Venice after the sack of Rome with her dwarf friend, who manages her affairs. She goes back to her mother's house, where she discovers that her mother has died. In order to survive, she must build her client base back up, and many adventures ensue. The story is written from the dwarf's point of view, and is quite engaging. I will be seeking out more of Sarah Dunant's work.
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reviewed In the Company of the Courtesan on + 12 more book reviews
This book has many strengths. The setting is evocative and seemingly well-researched, but not particularly attractive in the mind's eye. My expectations were more along the lines of sumptuous fabrics, rich wines, and languid encounters. In actuality, the book's courtesan is down on her luck, and any interaction we have with her day to day life is narrated from the 'behind the scenes' perspective of her partner in crime.

There is an interesting subplot to follow, and unexpected twists keep the book from becoming boring, but it wasn't the escapist fiction I was expecting.