Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho, and Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks
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Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho, and Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks

by Diana Souhami
     
 

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Wild Girls is the critically acclaimed true story of two wealthy American heiresses—-one an artist, the other a writer—-whose stormy, passionate love affair captivated Paris’s salon set between the wars.

Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks were rich, American, eccentric, and grandly lesbian. They met in Paris in 1915, and their relationship

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Overview

Wild Girls is the critically acclaimed true story of two wealthy American heiresses—-one an artist, the other a writer—-whose stormy, passionate love affair captivated Paris’s salon set between the wars.

Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks were rich, American, eccentric, and grandly lesbian. They met in Paris in 1915, and their relationship lasted more than fifty years, despite infidelity, separation, and temperamental differences. Romaine Brooks, a painter, was the product of an unhappy childhood and trusted no one but Natalie. Natalie Barney was passionate about life, sex, and love. Her Friday afternoon salons, attended by Gertrude Stein, and Colette and Edith Sitwell, were a magnet for social introductions and cultural innovations.

Drawing from letters, papers, and paintings, Diana Souhami, the award-winning author of Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter, re-creates the lives and loves of this pair of dazzling and wild women.

“Epic romance . . . smartly sex-positive and so good-naturedly shocking.”

—-The New York Times Book Review

“Real tenderness and pathos . . . not only entertaining but affecting reading.”

—-The Washington Post

“Their friends were the most bohemian, their parties the most risqué, their tortured love affair the most notorious in Europe. Diana Souhami tells a remarkable tale.”

—-The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Nominee for the Lambda Literary and Judy Grahn Awards

"Epic romance… smartly sex-positive and so good-naturedly shocking."

The New York Times Book Review

"Real tenderness and pathos… not only entertaining but affecting reading."

The Washington Post

"Their friends were the most bohemian, their parties the most risqué, their tortured love affair the most notorious in Europe. Diana Souhami tells a remarkable tale."

The Sunday Telegraph (U.K.)

Ada Calhoun
Souhami makes no secret of her enthusiasm for Barney and Brooks, whom she introduces as "American, rich and grandly lesbian." She deals with their sex life - the "kissing, nipping, delirium" - with the same good humor and light touch that pervade the rest of the book. And she sprinkles the narrative with what she describes as "discursions." These italicized, journal-entry-ish and often cryptic paragraphs, tucked in between chapters, offer anecdotes about lesbian affairs of her own. They add clutter (there are already quotes introducing each chapter and footnotes on almost every page), but some texture, too. Souhami's asides indicate that lustiness and loneliness are, eternally, emotional twins.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
Souhami (Selkirk's Island; Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter) has written a fast-paced dual biography of poet and socialite Natalie Barney and her lover, artist Romaine Brooks. The book is a chronicle of Barney's many lesbian relationships, beginning with the famous French courtesan Liane de Pougy, but its focus is the relationship that Brooks and Barney shared over a span of 50 years. The book's tension springs from the opposing personalities of the two women. Brooks, eccentric and monastic, drew on her past and her solitude for inspiration, while Barney's lifeblood came from the community of female artists she nurtured in her famous salon. Souhami excels in re-creating the strong personalities of the women who broke free from their Victorian roots and became symbols of France's belle epoque era. Not a comprehensive biography, this book is a taster, highlighting the passions of both women, and works best as a complement to other biographies, such as Suzanne Rodriguez's Wild Heart: Natalie Clifford Barney's Journey from Victorian America to Belle Epoque Paris and Meryle Secrest's Between Me and Life: A Biography of Romaine Brooks. Optional for all libraries.-Maria Kochis, California State Univ., Sacramento Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312366605
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/17/2007
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.46(w) x 8.39(h) x 0.67(d)

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