What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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UNSOLVED: One specific book > Historical fiction. The life of a low-income young woman in France (Paris?) as she works her way up through society to become very powerful and influential with artists and politicians. 19th-20th C? Spoilers ahead.

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message 1: by Cobaltik (new)

Cobaltik | 5 comments Plot
The book follows the life of a young woman who [somehow] makes her way into French high society. I feel like it must be set somewhere in the 19th - mid 20th century due to this kind of social climbing. I think the city was Paris. Definitely France. I have the dimmest memory of her working in some kind of clothing shop and living with a lot of other young girls. Or she could have been working as a prostitute, I'm really not sure. She's handed a rough lot in life to start with, though.

Through making connections and social situations she makes her acquaintance with several powerful people in the society, from influential artists to influencing the decision of politicians (there may be something about her influencing a war? Not sure which one). She rises up and up and becomes very well-known. There may be some kind of huge scandal where she possibly loses a lot of her wealth and influence (again, due to a war...?) I think I remember a scene where her possessions are taken away. Again, I can't be sure. Sorry for being so vague.

The book ends with her as a mysterious refined older lady who retires by the seaside (perhaps Marseille?) and doesn't talk about her past. She doesn't end up with any of her lovers. That's part of why it stuck out to me and why I would love to find it again.

Year
Read about seven years to a decade ago, I think, so around 2010-2013? Not sure if it was published around the time it was set or if it was later, but I imagine it was later.

Misc
Google kept recommending me a biography of Liliane Bettencourt. I am sure it's not that, because I definitely remember it being fictionalised. But parts of her story do match up (being influential with powerful people), so perhaps this book was inspired by her life?

I also am not sure whether this was a novel or a novella, but I seem to recall it being quite a chunky book. It's from a time when I read a lot more though, so I could be mistaken - if this sounds like a novella you've read, please also let me know!

Books it is not!
Dangerous Liaisons
Gigi
Vanity Fair

I'm certain I'm not combining a couple of plots together, but I also have had incredible trouble finding a book with this specific plot, minimal though it is. I wish I could remember her name, or any of the more distinctive characters or plot points.

Any help would be massively appreciated, thank you :)


message 2: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39593 comments Mod
The Old Wives' Tale maybe? It sounds something like the story of Sophia Baines, who started out working in her father's drapery shop in England (with her sister Constance) but had bigger dreams, got married, and moved to Paris, where she lived through the siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War.

The novel is about both sisters though.


message 3: by Cobaltik (new)

Cobaltik | 5 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "The Old Wives' Tale maybe? It sounds something like the story of Sophia Baines, who started out working in her father's drapery shop in England (with her sister Constance) but had bi..."

That also sounds like an interesting read, but this was definitely a single female protagonist, who as far as I recall didn't ever marry. Or if she did, he wasn't around by the end of the book. Thank you, though!


message 4: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39593 comments Mod
Nana?


message 5: by Cobaltik (new)

Cobaltik | 5 comments Afraid not. I definitely remember that this was told from the point of view of the young lady. I don't think it was in first-person, but it was definitely her perspective and journey through the world.


message 6: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39593 comments Mod
Sounds like it has a lot in common with Manon Lescaut except that at the end of Manon, Manon dies.


message 7: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (holtzlovesbooks) | 3 comments Could it be about Dora Maar?


message 8: by Cobaltik (new)

Cobaltik | 5 comments Ah, it's not Manon Lescaut, definitely had a more modern tone. And it being about the life of Dora Maar would make the setting too late. Bless you both for helping, though. I'm wracking my brains trying to remember more details.


message 9: by Cobaltik (new)

Cobaltik | 5 comments Still haven't found this book! Bumping for a fresh batch of eyes :)


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