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In the Company of the Courtesan

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

In the Company of the Courtesan - Ryan Crochet

In her novel, In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant is able to mix fantasy and reality in a most entertaining fashion. By intermingling characters of her own creation with actual people who lived in 16th century Italy she creates a world in which the two main c...
In her novel, In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant is able to mix fantasy and reality in a most entertaining fashion. By intermingling characters of her own creation with actual people who lived in 16th century Italy she creates a world in which the two main characters, Fiammetta Bianchini and Bucino Teodoldi, take on roles of seeming historical significance.

In the Company of the Courtesan is the story of Bucino Teodoldi, a dwarf in the service of Fiammetta Bianchini, an Italian courtesan, during the sacking of Rome. After opening her home to the attacking soldiers in order to escape death for herself and her servants, Fiammetta is forced to flee with Bucino to her hometown of Venice to escape when her plan is turned against her. The story follows the efforts of Bucino and the healer La Draga to nurse Fiammetta back to health and her subsequent re-entry into the world of Venetian courtesans.

Dunant introduces historical figures and events throughout the novel in order to advance her story. She begins with the sacking of Rome in 1527, an event which did, in fact, occur. Dunant speaks of the Lutherans and their attack on the city as well as their siege of Pope Clement VII, who was in reality the pope at that time, and who Dunant linked to the fictional Fiammetta. This is the first of the notable instances in which her fictional characters are linked to historical figures. Another important link between fiction and reality is created when Fiammetta meets and subsequently models for the painter Tiziano Vecelli, more commonly known in the art world as Titian. By forging this link, Dunant is able to position Fiammetta as the subject of one of Titian's most famous paintings, the "Venus of Urbino," which serves to portray Fiammetta as a woman who has great historical significance even though she never actually existed. It is these fabricated links between the fictional and the factual that allow the reader to suspend reality and surrender to the story, even if the reader is properly educated in matters of both history and art.

Dunant also uses historical events and locations to lend the novel an air of authenticity. Beginning with the previously mentioned sacking of Rome, Dunant is able to place Fiammetta and Bucino in an environment which is believable, if not necessarily familiar to the reader. Additionally, the use of such locales as Venice and the islands surrounding Italy give the reader the ability to follow the plot geographically. Dunant is able to use fictional characters in places such as the Jewish Ghetto to not only advance the plot but to involve the reader in plot lines outside of the main. Likewise, the inclusion of varied locales is also able to advance the story of Bucino and to develop the character of his would-be love interest, La Draga, with Bucino at one point following her not only to her home within Venice, but also to her home island off of the Italian coast.

By mixing historical fact with fictional creation Sarah Dunant is able to create a believable world for her characters to live, work, love, and die in. She intertwines the two with what at times appears to be surgical precision, developing a story which rarely lags and is greatly entertaining, from the sacking of Rome to the Venice of the 16th century. The reader is able to develop emotional attachments and connections with the fictional characters because they are so skillfully placed in a world of historical fact.

posted by RyanC on November 11, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

At first, it looks like an interesting read, but the story told from the dwarf's point of view flattens the story....

I chose to purchase this book because it took place in Venice and was interested in reading about life back in the 1500's. There were no elements in the story to keep me interested (element of suprise, romance, mystery, twists and turns,). Disappointed in this book as...
I chose to purchase this book because it took place in Venice and was interested in reading about life back in the 1500's. There were no elements in the story to keep me interested (element of suprise, romance, mystery, twists and turns,). Disappointed in this book as it was not what I thought it would be and it says on the cover it is a "New York Times Bestseller." Not much action taking place from the Courtesan's standpoint. The story revolves mostly around the dwarf's and La Draga's issues. If you are really interested in reading the book, borrow it from the library......

posted by historicalfiction_fan on March 20, 2010

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    At first, it looks like an interesting read, but the story told from the dwarf's point of view flattens the story....

    I chose to purchase this book because it took place in Venice and was interested in reading about life back in the 1500's. There were no elements in the story to keep me interested (element of suprise, romance, mystery, twists and turns,). Disappointed in this book as it was not what I thought it would be and it says on the cover it is a "New York Times Bestseller." Not much action taking place from the Courtesan's standpoint. The story revolves mostly around the dwarf's and La Draga's issues. If you are really interested in reading the book, borrow it from the library......

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 11, 2009

    In the Company of the Courtesan - Ryan Crochet

    In her novel, In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant is able to mix fantasy and reality in a most entertaining fashion. By intermingling characters of her own creation with actual people who lived in 16th century Italy she creates a world in which the two main characters, Fiammetta Bianchini and Bucino Teodoldi, take on roles of seeming historical significance.

    In the Company of the Courtesan is the story of Bucino Teodoldi, a dwarf in the service of Fiammetta Bianchini, an Italian courtesan, during the sacking of Rome. After opening her home to the attacking soldiers in order to escape death for herself and her servants, Fiammetta is forced to flee with Bucino to her hometown of Venice to escape when her plan is turned against her. The story follows the efforts of Bucino and the healer La Draga to nurse Fiammetta back to health and her subsequent re-entry into the world of Venetian courtesans.

    Dunant introduces historical figures and events throughout the novel in order to advance her story. She begins with the sacking of Rome in 1527, an event which did, in fact, occur. Dunant speaks of the Lutherans and their attack on the city as well as their siege of Pope Clement VII, who was in reality the pope at that time, and who Dunant linked to the fictional Fiammetta. This is the first of the notable instances in which her fictional characters are linked to historical figures. Another important link between fiction and reality is created when Fiammetta meets and subsequently models for the painter Tiziano Vecelli, more commonly known in the art world as Titian. By forging this link, Dunant is able to position Fiammetta as the subject of one of Titian's most famous paintings, the "Venus of Urbino," which serves to portray Fiammetta as a woman who has great historical significance even though she never actually existed. It is these fabricated links between the fictional and the factual that allow the reader to suspend reality and surrender to the story, even if the reader is properly educated in matters of both history and art.

    Dunant also uses historical events and locations to lend the novel an air of authenticity. Beginning with the previously mentioned sacking of Rome, Dunant is able to place Fiammetta and Bucino in an environment which is believable, if not necessarily familiar to the reader. Additionally, the use of such locales as Venice and the islands surrounding Italy give the reader the ability to follow the plot geographically. Dunant is able to use fictional characters in places such as the Jewish Ghetto to not only advance the plot but to involve the reader in plot lines outside of the main. Likewise, the inclusion of varied locales is also able to advance the story of Bucino and to develop the character of his would-be love interest, La Draga, with Bucino at one point following her not only to her home within Venice, but also to her home island off of the Italian coast.

    By mixing historical fact with fictional creation Sarah Dunant is able to create a believable world for her characters to live, work, love, and die in. She intertwines the two with what at times appears to be surgical precision, developing a story which rarely lags and is greatly entertaining, from the sacking of Rome to the Venice of the 16th century. The reader is able to develop emotional attachments and connections with the fictional characters because they are so skillfully placed in a world of historical fact.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

    I LOVED this book!

    Have yet to read Dunant's more modern books, but have read all of her historicals and LOVE them all. Her use of language is elegant, her characters original, and I always learn about the time and politics, which is a lovely bonus. Company and Sacred Hearts are my favorite.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    Renaissance Venice through the eyes of a courtesan's companion

    Sarah Dunant recreates the Renaissance past very effectively. Beginning in a Rome in turmoil, she carries the reader quickly to Venice, where the protagonist - the loyal servant and companion to an expert courtesan - shows the reader both the atmosphere of La Serenissima and the action surrounding his Lady's entry into Venetian society through the eyes of a little person (dwarf). Characters are well drawn, and the reader continues to wonder what will become of the Lady Fiametta as she navigates the complicated and sometimes treacherous Venetian world. However, the action is rather slow from time to time - what carries the reader on those pages is Dunant's talent for describing character, appearance, and place. It's a good, escapist read that unfolds at a leisurely pace.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2008

    tragedy upon tragedy

    An employee of Barnes & Noble suggested I buy this along with my purchase of Susan Griffin's The Book Of The Courtesans. I am glad I did as it was a fun and easy read, but these poor characters never get a break. It seems a happy ending is always just out of grasp. If you like that kind of amusing frustration then this is the book for you. Expect physical violence and detailed descriptions of dirty peasants.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2008

    Expected more

    I absolutely loved The Birth of Venus and I was looking forward to the next novel by Dunant but unfortunately I was extremely disappointed, had to drag myself to finish a book that never really hooked me. Beautiful descriptions of life in Venice and Rome but where´s the plot? I would´ve read something else had I known....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2008

    A succulent morsel.

    A beautifully written story, richly layered with atmospheric details of 16th century Rome and Venice. Well fleshed out characters that come to life on the page. I am now a fan of Ms. Dunant's work and look forward to reading The Birth of Venus.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2007

    A reviewer

    I would give this a 5 but I figure some people aren't into prostitutes and dwarfs. What a wonderful pair of characters set in a wonderful place and time. So many ways to see the world and the people in it. Great escape novel and if I can't be there it is nice to read about Venice with the help of such vivid writing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2014

    Love all her historical fiction!

    Love all her historical fiction! I've actually read this book 2 or 3 times I enjoyed it so much!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    Loved it!

    .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2013

    haunting

    r i

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2013

    Promise that is not fullfied

    This book started out clever and interesting and then becomes very dissappointing . There are no twist, plots that rivial the first chapters. The story goes nowhere, except a predicitible ending.

    I will say it was well written, if you can ignore the lack of a good plot. But I did learn one historical fact. I did not know about the lutherens helping sack rome with charles. That was it.
    All and all it was not a page turner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Very enjoyable read

    Fans of Sarah Dunant will not be disappointed. She has a wonderful way of evoking the flavor of the times she writes about, and her characters are full of life. Engrossing story...she is one of my favorite authors.

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    Loved it!

    I read this when it first came out and I absolutely loved it! It drew me in from the first chapter!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2008

    Very disappointing

    After Birth of Venus I was really looking forward to this book. I was completely let down. I felt that the story started, then stopped several times and never really got going. No character developement to speak of.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    this book had me enthrall. the writing is just spectacular. Sarah Dunant's intricate research on the subject of Venice really payed off, and she uses her great discriptive abilities to emphaisze that research. she paints Venice as a city built on pleasure appeased. her characters fit perfectly into their atmosphere. i'm the sort of person who finds herself flipping unconsciously to the end pages of a book, but though i knew the ending, it still managed to surprise me, and i have no regrets as to picking up this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    Fantabulous!!!

    I absolutely loved this book the story was completely mesmerizing. I read every page with great interest. I thought it was interesting that some people have described this book as pornographic. It was NOT! The title indicates the book is about a Courtesan. What did they really think they were going to read about. Mrs. Smith as a Librarian. Wonderful period piece. I'm off to get The Birth of Venus.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2007

    I really enjoyed it.

    I love the way she writes- I love her choice of words, her vulgarity gives the story an added 'charm' for lack of a better word. I thought it was a great story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2007

    Wish I had just borrowed the book instead of buying it

    I was very disappointed. I waited all year for this to come out in paper back. I should have waited until someone else bought it and just borrowed it. There was not much to this book. I was really bored. I think it would have been better if it was from the Courtesan's point of view instead of the dwarf's. I also felt as if the author was trying to take some of the story line from the movie 'Dangerous Beauty', about Veronica Franco and put it in this book. Overall I would not recommend this book. Her other book was better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2007

    Overall - pretty boring

    This was my first 'historical fiction' read and probably will be my last. To me it was page after page of nothing much happening. The end saved it from being a one star review. Such a shame and waste of time when there are so many other books calling my name!

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