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In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah…
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In the Company of the Courtesan (2006)

by Sarah Dunant

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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In the Company of the Courtesan – Sarah Dunant
Audio performance by Steven Hoye
4 stars

From the convent to a brothel. The first Sarah Dunant book that I read was Sacred Hearts. This book looks at an entirely different cross-section of 16th century Italy. Far from the detailed picture of the religious lives of secluded nuns, In the Company of the Courtesanexamines the lives of a high class whore and her pimp, the dwarf, Bucino. In coarse, gritty language, Bucino relates the story of their narrow escape from the sack of Rome and Fiammetta’s eventual recovery of health and fortune in her native Venice.

Dunant describes Venice and its layers of society with amazing attention to detail. Life can be luxurious for the prosperous, but also brutal, dangerous and ugly. Bucino and Fiammetta interact with Venice and each other in a way that seemed both theatrical and completely genuine. A courtesan and her dwarf? What are they if not actors?

Some of the drama is comedic, but much of it is distinctly tragic. I was glad that the ending allowed an optimistic outlook for the further adventures of Bucino and Fiammetta.



( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Interesting, but not spectacular. I really liked the last Dunant novel I read, but this one did not give the same level of enjoyment. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
OK but too long and eventually to boring to continue with. Didn't finish. ( )
  SChant | Apr 28, 2015 |
Great with 16th century Venice, though I suspect a couple of things might have been from later centuries. ( )
  lisahistory | Jan 26, 2015 |
Historical fiction is one of those genres I've always relinquished to my sister, but having read two of Dunant's novels over the summer, I've come away with a certain appreciation for the art form. ( )
  laurustina | Jan 14, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Dunantprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoye, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Philpott, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812974042, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Renaissance Italy, 1527,during the sacking of Rome. Cortesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion Bucino, with their stomachs full of the jewels they have swallowed, head for Venice. There they infiltrate Venetian society and together the make a perfect partnership - the sharp tongued, sharp witted dwarf and his mistress trained from birth to entertain and satisfy men with money. As their fortunes increase their partnership comes under threat from the attentions of an admirer and from a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives with devastating consequences for them all.… (more)

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