M A's Reviews > Courtesan

Courtesan by Diane Haeger
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Jan 27, 12

bookshelves: romance-historical, historical-fiction
Read from January 24 to 27, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Rating / Grade: 2 stars / C-

Disclaimer: I am not a professional reviewer, nor was I solicited for this review. I purchased my copy of "Courtesan" at Sony (ebook store.) I read the entire novel at least 1 time prior to reviewing it.

Spoiler warning: I try to mark spoilers, but I don't always remember to do that.



"Courtesan" missed the boat on so many levels. The love story of Henri de Valois and Diane de Poitiers is pure fodder for a great "cougar" romance. I've always been curious about who Diane de Poitiers may have been, how she functionned in the French Court, and how she survived Catherine de Medici's jealousy. Unfortunately, this historical novel didn't engage me as well as it could have due to the author's chronic effort to consistently portray Diane de Poitiers only in the very best light. At all times. No matter what.

The beginning (first third or so of the book) is quite strong and intriguing, but Diane's character never goes anywhere. I've come to the conclusion the author (also named Diane) felt too much affinity with Diane and couldn't bring herself to write Diane as a flesh-and-blood woman with the traits neccessary for her to survive and thrive in the 16th C. French court.

Too much effort went into semi-apologetic explanation for Diane's romantic involvement with Henri in his mid-teens. Haeger plays it out as the two lovers being constantly thrown together and neither character possessing any other kind of emotional support system making them more emotionally dependent upon each other until it led to romantic attraction. The story also portrays Diane experiencing extreme guilt and personal conflict about her relationship with Henri, even after he succeeds his father and elevates Diane as his mistress. In fact, Diane never seemed truly at peace with her relationship with Henri until the novel's conclusion. After Henri has died. Go figure.

Diane also cried too much about "not wanting to be a courtesan." It got ridiculous and I don't believe for one minute the real Diane de Poitiers ever felt this way. She seemed chronically distressed about how strangers perceived her and perceived her relationship with the king. Like all Mary Sues, she tolerates unimaginable abuses from various villainous characters in the book and never fights back. But when she suspects Henri of imprisoning an ex-paramour of hers, she turns her back on Henri to punnish him.

The storytelling was a bit disjointed at times, but the overall writing quality is pretty average. I guess whether one likes this story or not depends on how many Mary Sue books one has read and whether one likes them.
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Reading Progress

01/26/2012
42.0% "Although I find the story compelling, I feel Haeger spent too much time regaling her audience in how/why Diane and Henri fell in love. I'm almost halfway through the book and they're still not the "power couple" they're destined to become."
01/26/2012
57.0% "Is this a story of Diane de Poitiers or Diane Doormatiers? Nearly 2/3rds through this book and Diane has yet to do anything besides chronically react to other characters."
01/27/2012
100.0% "This could have been a terrific book if it weren't for all the Mary Sue taint. *sighs*"

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Mr Puddy At least, you can finish the whole book !
I couldn't ! The story come for free ( history ) but the author have to make reader believed Diane de poitier is real . ( personality, age development, emotion, etc. ). I am totally with you in lots of point


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