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Mademoiselle Victorine: A Novel Paperback – Jul 24 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (July 24 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307352838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307352835
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.8 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,043,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Finerman's debut novel chronicles the life of Victorine Laurent, whose beauty and ambition to "conquer Paris" leads her to become the favorite muse of Edouard Manet. Victorine poses for a portrait that will "change the direction of art forever," and the sexually charged painting indeed shocks the Grand Salon and helps Victorine capture the attention of the duke de Lyon, an adviser to Emperor Louis-Napoléon. The duke requests that Victorine become his mistress exclusively, and when she agrees, she must balance her feelings for Manet with her relationship to the duke and her rising notoriety. Finerman's juxtaposition of actual and fictional events and characters is far from seamless, and Victorine is too perfect to be believable. More attention to character and less to wardrobe would have lent needed depth. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Mademoiselle Victorine plunges the reader into the volatile mix of art and political intrigue in 1860s Paris through the fascinating person of Victorine Laurent, whose rapid, determined rise from dancer to courtesan of kings exposes the lives and passions of her time. Mademoiselle Victorine rides the Parisian whirlwind, taking the reader so deep into the heart of that glittering and dangerous era that putting the book down will not be an option.
- Pamela Aidan, author of An Assembly Such As This

“As vivid, bold, and seductive as a Manet painting…brings to life the tinseled, tawdry art world of Second Empire Paris.
 - Eleanor Herman, author of Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge

“Finerman cleverly weaves her touching story, populated with colorful, artistic characters, through a period in the political and artistic history of France that is rich with drama.”
¯Susanne Dunlap, author of Emilie’s Voice and Liszt’s Kiss

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x99410a74) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9966f51c) out of 5 stars "Love fades away. Only one thing survives. That's money." July 25 2007
By Luan Gaines - Published on
Format: Paperback
Victorine Laurent falls into a particular class of Parisian women, at least at the beginning of her association with Impressionist Edouard Manet in 1862, who make their living from the generosity of gentlemen protectors. Of a superior class than streetwalker, but not as elevated as a courtesan, Victorine is a lorette, her training ground the corps de ballet, where women are chosen for their beauty and suitability as paramours, rather than dancing skills. Penuriously raised by cruel and indifferent aunts, Victorine learns early that beauty is her only weapon; she has a limited time to take advantage of her physical gifts. Drawn to the inherent elegance of well-appointed gentlemen, ever on the lookout for a suitable protector, Victorine first meets the artist Degas, then Manet, for whom she agrees to pose.

As Manet's nude model for "Olympia", Victorine will make her fortune, the doors of society thrown open for her, but at the beginning of her quest for security, she is guided by pragmatism, self-interest and the obvious rewards offered by gentlemen of means. Manet and his disciples are the new face of Parisian art, upsetting the status quo with their vision; as the artist's protégé, Victorine attains cache, and with it, unexpected opportunity. At first, genteel society is shocked by Manet's depictions of his muse, but soon Victorine is the object of much speculation, including offers for patronage. Keeping her distance from Manet, Victorine refuses to be his lover, although she has no such qualms with those who would woo her, accepting finally a grand home from Baron Rothschild. Eventually, Victorine meets the one man who will refuse to tolerate her relationship as Manet's model; Philippe de Lyon, close advisor to Emperor Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon I and vice-president of the legislative body, Philippe demands exclusivity, nurturing grand schemes with Victorine as his unwitting pawn.

Her notoriety grows, as does Philippe's influence, Victorine introduced to court and seduced by men of great repute, basking in "ambition and rivalry, the blood sport of imperial Paris". Yet Victorine fails to find comfort in financial security or the glamour of her position, the court rife with intrigue and the whispers of war with Prussia. Drawn to Manet as butterfly to flame, Victorine cannot deny the attraction they have so skillfully avoided, each pursuing their goals as the country turns against the monarchy once again. By 1870, Paris is caught in the onslaught of Prussian might and superior arms. France, defeated, sues for peace. Betrayed and unjustly imprisoned, Victorine learns the harsh lessons of power and greed, surviving only by her wits and Manet's assistance.

Creating her heroine from a combination of historical characters during the era, Finerman recreates a believable Paris, displaying the beauty that so captured the imagination of Parisians, the elegant salons, the extravagance and decadence of the court of Louis Napoleon and his empress, Eugenie, wealthy men who parade their mistresses in society, the rising ire of the working class toward a ruling class that ignores their struggles and the enlightened artists and writers inspired to make their mark on the world stage. The real actors all but lost to history, Manet's gorgeous nude, "Olympia", survives, a gift to future generations. Luan Gaines/2007.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x993e0090) out of 5 stars Interesting Story! Jan. 30 2008
By Shirley Priscilla Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Victorine's beginnings of life was that of rejection, unwanted and unloved, deserted by her mother and father, or was she? As she becomes a woman she finds herself in Paris in the chorus of the grand Paris Opera. The life for these women was that of a mistress of wealthy, married men; but fate had something more in plan for Victorine. Meeting a painter by the name of Edouard Manet, Victorine begins to see life in a different light. Through her relationship with him she meets true friends and begins to open her heart which has been closed for a very long time. Perhaps there are some who can be trusted?
As she poses for this man, the painting becomes the talk of Paris and she becomes an almost overnight courtesan but that success almost destroys her. Victorine learns secrets from her past that will both bring a closure to some areas and unrest in others. As her life travels along, she herself becomes a mother and it is truly then as Paris is thrust into war that she realizes the war that raged in her heart for so many years must come to an end as she finds out what true love is and where her happiness lies. A very good story with some deep rooted hidden emotions that are gems to be found.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x993e0858) out of 5 stars Fascinating read with the Paris art and literary world of the late 19th century as the backdrop July 30 2007
By Myra Gabbay - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mademoiselle Victorine is a delight to read; one of those books that is over too soon. Ms.Finerman has crafted a novel which entertains, educates and leaves the reader wanting to know more about that most fascinating period in history. Romance and intrigue weave through historical events in France, with artists and writers taking center stage in this story of a young woman's determined struggle to survive and succeed, despite the hand she has been dealt. The details of daily life, dress and etiquette have been meticulously researched and lend authenticity to this story, whose main character was inspired by Manet's model Victorine Meurent, and the Countess of Castiglione. A must read for anyone who loves Paris, is interested in French history and art or just wants a great read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9966f8b8) out of 5 stars A great novel about Paris under Napoleon III Nov. 21 2013
By Patrice Orsières - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm a french historian of Paris during the Second Empire. The book of Debra is absolutaly great for telling how was the life of the parisian society during this period. The story, the weft and the construction of the novel are very fascinating.
A great book for a great character and many great friends of Victorine : Manet, Baudelaire, etc.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9966fa44) out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed it! Oct. 23 2014
By S. Brown - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I met the author when I was in Paris so when I got home I ordered it from Amazon. The story is a fascinating study of where courtesan's come from and how they climb the ladder to wealth. But that's not all, the reader meets French impressionist artists and literary figures. Contemporary politics are included in the story. I learned a lot about that period in history. Reading the book is engrossing as well as informative. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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