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Jane Avril of the Moulin Rouge; with 13…
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Jane Avril of the Moulin Rouge; with 13 Toulouse-Lautrec drawings (edition 1954)

by Jose Shercliff

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Member:grunin
Title:Jane Avril of the Moulin Rouge; with 13 Toulouse-Lautrec drawings
Authors:Jose Shercliff
Info:Philadelphia, Macrae Smith Co. [1954]
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Jane Avril of the Moulin Rouge by Jose Shercliff

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The year is 1868, Paris in the Spring. As a midwife listens to a final scream, an illegitimate baby girl is born to a French courtesan and an Italian Viscount. Abandoned by her father, young Jeanne Richipin is left to be reared by a mother who is both madwoman and monster. Throughout her childhood Jeanne is volleyed in an out of schools, convents and sanitariums when each time her mother beats her to within a shred of her life and as various people come to rescue her from danger. When she is 16 and fresh out of school, her mother once again comes to claim her daughter, and for the last time piles physical abuse upon her daughter's head enough for Jeanne to run away forever.

Jeanne Richipin lived in hard times. The era of the Paris Commune uprising had just passed; World War I was brewing, ready to erupt soon. Known as the "Gay Nineties", this period in time was not always gay. Money was scarce, food was rationed, violence was at a high. After escaping the horrors of her childhood Jeanne hits the streets unsure of where to get help. Friends come and friends go, it seems there were always friends in the same boat arriving just in the knick of time to save her from poverty and prostitution.

Finding she had a talent for dancing, and renamed Jane Avril by one of her artist friends, Jane finds herself slowly welcomed into the inner circle of Bohemian life. On the arms of the city's most dashing men, Jane smelled the aroma of Café-au-lait pouring each morning at charming street-side bistros, and in the evenings witnessed the exotic Green Fairy of Absinthe as it steeped into the seedy bars of Paris. Charming her way from one stage & dance hall after another, Jane eventually hits the big time at the outrageous new Moulin Rouge. Rising to the top to star billing and becoming Paris' most famous Can-Can Dancer, Jane begins a life where she is sought after around the world to grace the stages of Vienna, Venice, Moscow, and London. She kicks her heels up and ruffles her petticoats night after night in every glittering Paris cabaret. Her costumes were daring, her legs flashed black silk gartered stockings, and her arms were ensleeved by long satin gloves as she winked, flirted, and danced her way to freedom.

But although her career was charmed, off stage Jane Avril was an unhappy woman, tortured by her past and tormented by her continual failure with the men in her life. On stage she is vibrant, outrageous and every man's fun-filled fantasy girl; at home she dreams of a simple settled life of peace with a husband and children to call her own. Jane's amazing other side was that of a scholar and intellectual muse. She surrounded her self with artists such as Renoir, poets like Oscar Wilde, and many of the unconventional philosophers of her time. Never considered a dance-hall floozy, Jane Avril was sincerely loved by all.

For those of you who have never heard of Jane Avril, you will recognize her as the famous dancer immortalized on canvas and art posters by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Jane and Henri were very close friends, she was his favorite model. For Henri, Jane was the very symbol of a French woman's charm.

Jose Shercliff writes Jane Avril's story with detail and polish, portraying both the charmed and the tortured life of this amazing independent woman who against many odds, managed to survive a life of both fame and hardship. Jane Avril lived through a childhood most would not survive. She endured the ravishes of war, grave illness, spite from the Paris elite, and lived in a time when to be frivolous, bawdy and Bohemian was considered all the rage. I LOVED THIS BOOK, and fell in love with this fascinating woman. This wonderful book is long out of print; published in 1954 by Macrae Smith but available used through online websites. ( )
  vernefan | Feb 19, 2011 |
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