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message 1: by Charlie (last edited Feb 02, 2011 11:46PM) (new)

Charlie (bitsyblingbooks) | 28 comments Mod
Questions to ponder...

1. Do you think Dumas makes his Marguerite believable, or is she a male fantasy of a courtesan?

2. Which is more romantic -- a happy ending or one where someone tragically croaks?

3. In the world of Camille, courtesans routinely 'ruin' men by spending their entire inheritances on clothes, home furnishings, and jewels. How wrong or right do you think this behavior is, in the world of the courtesan? Is this what we would today call being a shopaholic?

message 2: by Charlie (new)

Charlie (bitsyblingbooks) | 28 comments Mod
Has anyone read or is reading this book yet? I'm curious to know what it is like. I plan on getting to it -- Feb. has been a very slow reading month for me.

message 3: by Leigh (new)

Leigh (knittingyogini) I started it, but haven't gotten very far. I have the feeling that I would have found this very romantic when I was younger, but am now too old and jaded to enjoy it. :P I'm having a hard time with the TB being part of her attractiveness.

I didn't realize that it was the basis for La Traviata until I read the intro, so I'm going to carry on.

message 4: by Leigh (new)

Leigh (knittingyogini) I finished! February reading was been slow for me, too. I hoping to have more time this month.

1. I think Marguerite is believable as a courtesan in that she has a good understanding of the psychology of her situation and able to manipulate the people around her. She seems to have made her place through charisma and wit rather than any kind of unearthly beauty or other larger than life talent.

2. Hmmmmm....I’m going to go with tragically croaks. I think in this case, its really spelled out that the future of an aged mistress is not very attractive. The “happily ever after” is not a real possibility. In this way, the beautiful Marguerite is preserved as well as Armand’s status and financial future. It was also very important to the plot that she dies. (Her story is told after her death, so this is not a spoiler. ) I don’t think the romance would have developed except for her illness. She wouldn’t have allowed anything to start with someone as middle-class as Armand if she did not know the end was coming and want a deeper relationship with someone. And, I think, Armand as well would never have gone to the lengths that he did to be with her if he hadn’t known on some level she would not be around for very long.

I did continue to have a problem with the illness aspect of this. The foreword to my copy of the novel mentions the Victorians having a kind of sickness fetish. Several times, she gets a feverish sparkle in her eyes, spits blood and Armand carries her off to bed. Had I read this when I was younger, I would have pictured him taking care of her, comforting her and chatting if she couldn’t sleep. I would have found it so romantic and touching. But, in fact, its pretty clear they are having sex all night. The old-woman-me responds: “Eeeeewwww, really? Why? What is wrong with this guy?” because nothing would make me less horny than literally barfing up a lung and running a temp. So, I never found Marguerite and Armand’s relationship particularly romantic until the very end where its clear how she had protected him and how she’d maintained her illusion even while he was acting like an ass.

3. For the kept women generally in this story, part of their attraction is their extravagance. So, in that way, it was part of the job. Armand himself says at the beginning that anyone who is won too easily is not worth was much to him. Additionally, I think the courtesans needed to accumulate things to basically serve as a retirement fund. But life-style did seem to be addicting both to Prudence and Marguerite.

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