In the Company of the Courtesan

In the Company of the Courtesan

A Novel

Book - 2007
Average Rating:
8
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My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor's army blew a hole in the wall of God's eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.

Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan , Sarah Dunant's epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to become a miracle of east-west trade: rich and rancid, pious and profitable, beautiful and squalid.

With a mix of courage and cunning they infiltrate Venetian society. Together they make the perfect partnership: the sharp-tongued, sharp-witted dwarf, and his vibrant mistress, trained from birth to charm, entertain, and satisfy men who have the money to support her.

Yet as their fortunes rise, this perfect partnership comes under threat, from the searing passion of a lover who wants more than his allotted nights to the attentions of an admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his sultan's court. But Fiammetta and Bucino's greatest challenge comes from a young crippled woman, a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all.

A story of desire and deception, sin and religion, loyalty and friendship, In the Company of the Courtesan paints a portrait of one of the world's greatest cities at its most potent moment in history: It is a picture that remains vivid long after the final page.


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2007, c2006.
Edition: Random House trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9780812974041
Branch Call Number: FIC DUNANT
Characteristics: 385 p. ; 21 cm.

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zipread
Oct 31, 2015

In the Company of the Courtesan --- by s Sarah Dunant.

So what do you expect when you buy your book off the spinner in the camp store in the park during the rain? This. Historical fiction set in Rome as the barbarians sack and pillage; peaceful Venice, rich and tolerant, the perfect venue for a courtesan who has lost all during the violence in Rome. Perhaps you’ll like this novel as the mosquitoes buzz you in your tent.

o
oboechica88
Dec 07, 2013

The book was just a little trashier than I would have liked. Granted, it IS about a courtesan, but the dialogue was vulgar and I didn't like any of the characters, which makes it difficult to enjoy a book. For the full review, head to OboeChica Books (so long and thanks for all the fish).

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finn75
Jul 14, 2013

I loved this book! I read it awhile ago but still remember how easily it cast me into the richness of Venice. Loved the characters and detail. Would recommend.

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lozza1401
Jul 11, 2013

I thought this book would be more about the woman behind the painting (The Venus of Urbino) but the character is fictional, as is the narrator, Bucino. A good historical context for the life and times of those in Venice in the mid-1530s. I would read again.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

Dunant is fascinated with the religious and political upheaval of Italy during the emergence of Protestantism in Europe. Her novel centres around the story of a 16th century (fictional) Venetian courtesan and the dwarf who is her protector and pimp. Dunant’s strength as a historical novelist lies in her ability to make readers taste and smell the world her characters inhabit. This novel is full of lively sexual politics, dark ironies, exuberance and charm.

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shkspraddict
Aug 03, 2012

This book was a nice, light read for summer. Durant does a nice job of creating a rich environment in which to set her story, but I found the rather short book to be quite tedious at times. I would recommend this as a book to read at the gym on on the bus during a morning commute.

suemoore47 Feb 12, 2012

Durant is an excellent storyteller who blends history with a fast-paced story line. Ilove her characters who are all too human in their strengths and weaknesses.

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GailRoger
Nov 20, 2010

I seemed to have spent the summer reading books that...really weren't that good. Not awful, just not that great. I picked this up at the airport because I'd read The Birth of Venus some time ago and had begun Sacred Hearts but was forced to surrender it to the library when I left Victoria.

And aaahhhh. When you read not-quite-the-ticket books, what a relief it is when you finally get into the hands of a good writer. Must hit the library for Sacred Hearts soon.

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