In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant (2006) K

Date Read: 12.14.06
Book From: Boston Public Library
Reviewer: Kakaner


Bucino is a dwarf who serves one of the most beautiful and successful courtesans in Rome. However, the war forces them to flee to the courtesan’s birthplace, Venice, where she is forced to build her career and reputation again out of nothing.


In a much tighter and well-written second novel, Sarah Dunant takes us through the intriguing and dazzling world of the courtesan. The plot is basic yet appropriately ambitious, the simple voyage of a determined woman who manages to rebuild her life through hard work and large helpings of wit. The linearity of the story made room for a lot of other elements to shine through, particularly character development. It is apparent that this book was well-researched, and Dunant’s comfort with the subject matter allowed her to weave a fresh story with historically educational tidbits. Sometimes there were couple page long descriptions of courtesan techniques and how-to’s for wooing men, and they were terribly fun and interesting. Despite the very controlled approach to the novel overall, Dunant definitely took some liberties towards the end and added some flair and drama to the story. However, the novel as a whole was very effective and engaging, a relatively easy read for any historical fiction fan.

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Sarah Dunant

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