Hat of Nikitich's Reviews > Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century

Courtesans by Katie Hickman
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Apr 28, 09

bookshelves: non-fiction, the-demimondaine
Read in April, 2009

This was a fascinating overview of the society and lifestyle surrounding the "long" 19th century's demimonde, and one of the best books about the courtesan that I have yet run across. It is also an amazing jumping off point for further research, the bibliography alone makes me swoon!

The author spent a lot of effort in setting the scene around each of the discussed ladies, and it was much appreciated. Tangents on items of fashion (behaviors and social inclinations, as well as clothing) and their inceptions were as enlightening as the footnotes on the political historical figures and events surrounding the demimondaines. The book had a few stumblings — a marked tendency to conjecture, some strange turns of prose — but these were by and large drowned out by the wealth of information and the vibrancy with which it was presented.

Hickman emphasized the independence that all the featured women struggled for (and often achieved), and she obliquely touches on how this informs feminism and its appeal to the ladies of the untouchable (but ultimately repressed) monde of the time. Engrossing and thought provoking.
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04/22/2009 page 105
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