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!
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.
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?
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.
I have been to Venice, the setting of Dunant's masterful historical fiction work, but it has been a few years. With Dunant's vibrant descriptions, however, I was transported back there instantly from my living room. The characters are far from stock; they each breath a life of their own. This was one book I was sad to finish. I felt as if I were losing a friend in Bucino. I highly recommend it, even to history buffs. Many events and people are fictional, but many others are also based on research (see Dunant's afterword and bibliography.) The book is highly entertaining and you may find yourself learning a few things about the life of a Venetian courtesan and her affiliates in the process. Definitely recommend.
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.
I originally bought this book for a flight home. It started strong and the visual descriptions were beautiful. Overall, I found the book to just so-so. The narrative perspective was very interesting and the highlight of the book.
Such a great story! Despite the reputation of being a courtesan there is nothing offensive about this book. A vivid story of survival at the time of the sack of Rome by barbarians, it has stayed in my mind weeks after having read it. Vividly detailing life in 16th century Venice, it is a story of friendship and deception with a surprising resolution.
I loved reading this book, took you to a whole different place and time. The depth of the characters and thier need for each other in surviving is amazing. Quick paced story that keeps you turning the pages.
The story of the courtesan Fiametta as narrated by her faithful dwarf companion, Bucino. Dunant paints a vivid portrait of Venetian society during the time of Renaissance Italy from 1527. It is a story of sin and piety, desire and deception, friendship and loyalty. Well worth listening to all 12 discs !
I always enjoy this author, and this book is one of her best. It is the story of a Renaissance courtesan who is in a business arrangement with a dwarf. It is funny;sad, poignant, and conveys a feeling of empathy for both of the main characters. The story is told through the dwarf and it is interesting to see his view of life. I love the book. Genny Sikes
My book club read Courtesan and everyone thought it was an interesting read...it made for quite the discussion! I felt that not hearing the story from the Courtesan's point of view made it more interesting. Knowing quite a bit about Venice during this time period, I think Dunant really did her research...I thought the descriptions of the city and life were pretty accurate. Well-written and the characters were strong. There were some twists in the plot that I thought were well-executed. I would recommend this one...I give it 4 stars..
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.
After reading The Birth of Venus and loving it,this was very dissapointing. It was totally BORING, slow moving with no discernible plot. This book seemed to be very well researched as far as the time period, but the best thing about the book was the cover! I hope her new book is better.
Carrie H. reviewed In the Company of the Courtesan on
What a fun story! I love finding a book that's new and different and this had adventure and history and sex and human relations. It was a great read about a time period I was interested in but it also had a lot of twists and turns I didn't expect.
Rather than a tale of virtue and youth, 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.
To read the rest of my review, please visit:
Rome in 1527. The courtesan and her dwarf companion are fleeing chaos in search of a new life in Venice. Quite a heroine! An intriguing setting and a tale that grows in so many exciting directions and depth.
This was not as well written or as interesting as The Birth of Venus. It is a book that show an interesting time in Venice, and the characters are reasonably well drawn. I found them not at all sympathetic but not sorry I finished the book.
These warm days of late summer make great times to get lost in a good book like this one. Sarah Dunant's historical fiction is loosely based on actual events in Rome and Venice 500 years ago. The main characters are a dwarf and a courtesan.
The story is narrated by the dwarf, Buchino, who acts as business partner and close companion of Fiammetta, who is a young and beautiful Courtesan. They escape Rome's sacking in the early 1500's, leaving behind a life of grandeur and travel to Venice with only what they can conceal in a small chest and themselves. And, of course, Venice is not Rome and they must connive their way back into the book of Courtesans there. I had a hard time putting this book down for several days.
With modern day actor, Peter Dinkage, continually creeping into my mind's eye as the narrator of this story, I could envision all the intrigue, angst, and admiration Buchino faced. This was probably not the way the author imagined her character, but it sure helped me identify a bit more with the narrator's angle of vision.
This book pulled me in on the first page & never let go. It will take you to Italy circa 1520. Every sentence is a gem.
That said, if you are easily offended by references to sex, don't read any book with 'courtesan' in the title.
Ah, this is the third novel I have read by Sarah Dunant and by far the best. I loved the story from beginning to end that is told by the indomitable Bucino. Bucino tells the story from his diminished height and short legs. I found myself cheering this man who deals with ridicule day after day. Fiammetta, a lovely courtesan, and Bucino, her intellectual and wily companion, flee Rome in 1527 when it is invaded and burned. Fiammetta's hair was brutally cut from her head and she suffered a cut on her face before they flee the city. Although they lived well in Rome they reach Venice with only jewels that they can hide on their persons. Depressed but hopeful they arrive to find Fiammetta's mother has died but they settle in her home and wait for Fiammetta to recover. The two have an almost perfect partnership with Bucino taking care of the business end and Fiammetta the marketing and luring of clients. However, when their most precious jewel turns out to be an almost perfect reproduction the future looks bleak but they find monetary safety in the form of a banned book, an original that came into Bucino's possession before they left Rome. Since the book was written by a man who is also making his new life in Venice, they enlist his help to develop the new business. More than once they find that people close to them who deceive and rob them almost bringing about their downfall but their friendship holds them together. The ending is a delightful surprise when Bucino and Fiammetta find their life entirely changed by a lovely young lady.