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History Of Mistresses [Paperback]

Elizabeth Abbott
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 24.95
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Book Description

Feb. 26 2004
She has been known as the 'kept woman', the 'fancy woman' and the 'other woman'. She is both a fictional character and flesh-and-blood human being. But who is she, really? What do Madame de Pompadour, Heloise, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Eyre and Camilla Parker-Bowles have in common? Why do women become mistresses, and what is it like to have a private life that is usually also a secret life? Is a mistress merely a wife-in-waiting, or is she the very definition of the modern emancipated, independent female? In "A History of Mistresses" Elizabeth Abbott intelligently probes the motives and morals of some of history's most infamous and fascinating women. Drawing intimate portraits of those who have - either by chance, coercion or choice - assumed this complex role, from Chinese concubines and European royal mistresses to mobster molls and trophy dolls, "A History of Mistresses" offers a rich blend of history, personality and cultural study.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

History Of Mistresses + History Of Celibacy + A History of Marriage
Price For All Three: CDN$ 49.54


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Review

'a fascinating account of the other woman through history, more sobering than titillating.' - Sunday Times 'It is not just mistresses, it seems, who need to wake up to the new millennium; one of the surprises of this engrossing book is how mired in myth and fantasy it reveals our attitude to mistresses as being.' Sunday Telegraph '[Abbott] is one of the most respected non-fiction writers in Canada' - The Gazette (Montreal). 'Engaging and full of fun anecdotes and salacious details' - Toronto Star. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Elizabeth Abbott is Research Associate at Trinity College, University of Toronto and, from 1991 to 2004, was Dean of Women. She is the author of several books, including 'Sugar: a Bittersweet History', published by Duckworth, 'Haiti: a Modern History' and 'A History of Celibacy'. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The History of Non-Celibacy May 13 2007
Format:Paperback
A History of Mistresses by Elizabeth Abbott is a sweeping social history of mistresses from Ancient times to Modern Days. The book contains thirteen chapters, chronologically and thematically organized, that are subdivided into individual case studies on historically well known mistresses.

The book starts out chronologically in the ancient world with the Biblical mistress Hagar then goes into the Eastern Orient and Persian Harems. The book then has a chapter for European royal mistresses and a separate chapter for European aristocracy. It has chapters for papal consorts and one for mistresses and conquerors. There are chapters based on interracial sexual unions and one chapter I found very interesting about Jewish mistresses in Nazi Germany.

There are also thematically based chapters featuring mistresses as muses, mobster molls, and trophy dolls as well as fictional mistresses in literature. Finally, the author concludes with modern case studies of mistresses after the 1960s and their continued evolution within western culture.

I found that I read this book in sections rather than as a whole, because some parts of the book like the ancient case studies were more interesting to me than others like the modern period. The author has done a wonderful job compiling a ton of information in one tome with extensive end notes, but I found that the book struggled in the last chapter perhaps because modern mistresses may not be as well known or understood as their historical counterparts.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book starts out as intriguing and interesting but leaves you feeling empty in the end, as if you learned a little but not too much. It's more of a tease. Perhaps that's what it's like to be a mistress...
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