We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Erotic Exchanges Audiobook

Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris

Regular Price:$24.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Audible Editor Reviews

"This history brings to life les dames entretenues- women who dazzled and scandalized 18th-century Paris as mistresses of powerful men". (New Yorker)

Publisher's Summary

In Erotic Exchanges, Nina Kushner reveals the complex world of elite prostitution in 18th-century Paris by focusing on the professional mistresses who dominated it. In this demimonde, these dames entretenues exchanged sex, company, and sometimes even love for being "kept". Most of these women entered the profession unwillingly, either because they were desperate and could find no other means of support or because they were sold by family members to brothels or to particular men. A small but significant percentage of kept women, however, came from a theater subculture that actively supported elite prostitution. Kushner shows that in its business conventions, its moral codes, and even its sexual practices, the demimonde was an integral part of contemporary Parisian culture.

Kushner's primary sources include thousands of folio pages of dossiers and other documents generated by the Paris police as they tracked the lives and careers of professional mistresses, reporting in meticulous, often lascivious, detail what these women and their clients did. Rather than reduce the history of sex work to the history of its regulation, Kushner interprets these materials in a way that unlocks these women's own experiences. Kushner analyzes prostitution as a form of work, examines the contracts that governed relationships among patrons, mistresses, and madams, and explores the roles played by money, gifts, and, on occasion, love in making and breaking the bonds between women and men. This vivid and engaging book explores elite prostitution not only as a form of labor and as a kind of business but also as a chapter in the history of emotions, marriage, and the family.

©2013 Cornell University (P)2015 Redwood Audiobooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (39 )
5 star
 (15)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.2 (36 )
5 star
 (18)
4 star
 (8)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (0)
1 star
 (1)
Story
4.1 (37 )
5 star
 (17)
4 star
 (11)
3 star
 (6)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Shoshana Hathaway Atlanta, GA 08-07-15
    Shoshana Hathaway Atlanta, GA 08-07-15 Member Since 2012

    blind Kindle TTS user

    HELPFUL VOTES
    87
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    92
    85
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Historical examination of the Demimonde"

    Erotic Exchanges (Unabridged)
    ________________________________________

    Author: Nina Kushner
    Narrator:
    Sally Martin
    Provider:
    University Press Audiobooks
    Running Time:
    12 h 24 min

    In Erotic Exchanges, Nina Kushner reveals the complex world of elite prostitution in 18th-century Paris by focusing on the professional mistresses who dominated it. In this demimonde, these dames entretenues exchanged sex, company, and sometimes even love for being "kept". Most of these women entered the profession unwillingly, either because they were desperate and could find no other means of support or because they were sold by family members to brothels or to particular men. A small but significant percentage of kept women, however, came from a theater subculture that actively supported elite prostitution. Kushner shows that in its business conventions, its moral codes, and even its sexual practices, the demimonde was an integral part of contemporary Parisian culture. Kushner's primary sources include thousands of folio pages of dossiers and other documents generated by the Paris police as they tracked the lives and careers of professional mistresses, reporting in meticulous, often lascivious, detail what these women and their clients did. Rather than reduce the history of sex work to the history of its regulation, Kushner interprets these materials in a way that unlocks these women's own experiences. Kushner analyzes prostitution as a form of work, examines the contracts that governed relationships among patrons, mistresses, and madams, and explores the roles played by money, gifts, and, on occasion, love in making and breaking the bonds between women and men. This vivid and engaging book explores elite prostitution not only as a form of labor and as a kind of business but also as a chapter in the history of emotions, marriage, and the family.
    This is the 2nd book I have read from this provider, University Audiobooks, and both books have some excellent traits in common. Each book reads like a reprise of an academic research document, possibly a Doctoral thesis, revamped and restructured, slightly, for nonacademic readers interested in the areas under discussion. In the case of this book, the matter under discussion is the history of the Demimonde, especially with regard to the functions, economically, socially and culturally, of the professional mistresses. While the general topic is certainly erotic, the material contained in the book is not especially so, save by inference.

    However, this in no way detracts from the interest of the material. Anyone interested in the history of the 18th Century, or of France just before the Revolution, will find this a fascinating read, because it provides insight into a sub-culture that, while it has been treated in fiction in various ways, is still a bit of an enigma to the modern world. It was a culture with its own customs, rules, and social hierarchies, and the women who inhabited it had, and used, a broad range of independence at a time when most women had very little, indeed. Many of them had access to, and control of, their own money and property, and they were able to both enter into, and dissolve binding contracts. True, they were, at least technically, on the fringes of society, but this position also provided them the freedom to conduct their lives, mostly under their own control.

    The book is very well written, and the narrator was excellent, obviously completely comfortable with the many foreign (and not just French) names involved. Her phrasing was good, too, and her reading was objective and impersonal, as one would expect from a narrator of nonfiction, without being in the least boring.

    I recommend this book for anyone interested in the era depicted, or in understanding the Paris Demimonde itself, which has had a subtle but profound impact, even to modern times.

    I give both book and narrator a full 5 stars, and will be watching for more from this provider, with interest.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaded Buddha 02-03-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    103
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    123
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is HOT!"

    And by hot I mean … engagingly written scholarly history grounded in original archival research!

    It's true, this is an academic work, not a work of erotica, as the first reviewer points out. I suppose people could be duped by the naughty cover. After listening to the sample clip, I purchased it and am finding it to be really interesting. Nicely written and very pleasantly read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Calinurseguy 05-14-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Genuinely thought provoking"

    Who woulda thunk. The actual lives of real people are honestly dealt with in a history that could have been 'scandalous ' and 'titillating' like a tabloid, but was treated more like the 'New Yorker' article. Very good

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer S. Leblanc Houston, TX 02-01-15
    Jennifer S. Leblanc Houston, TX 02-01-15 Member Since 2010

    goodlifecpa

    HELPFUL VOTES
    97
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    158
    38
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well researched but not Erotic "

    The performance of this book is delightful with a narrator whose French annunciation is pleasing. The research is well organized and highly factual. There is nothing sexual or erotic about this book. It is brilliant research on a business. The author articulates the particular commerce of sex in a historically accurate ( although bland) manner.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daman 06-12-17
    Daman 06-12-17 Member Since 2016

    A good listen makes for an amazing day!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    188
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    373
    371
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Intriguing and Fascinating"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Erotic Exchanges to be better than the print version?

    The narration was good. The book was well researched and informative.


    Any additional comments?

    This review copy audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan 06-11-17
    Jonathan 06-11-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "HER-story in the making.."

    First off, I love how they say the French words and then explains what it means. After that I love the history of such a, then scandulous now less so, occupation. Just hearing of all the hardships and torments that girls suffered way back when, made me realize they have come along way to get there equality, but are still struggling to not slip back into those old days.
    The story flows well between love, hate, history, and of course, sex. If you want a historical story that draws you in, wanting more, and a story that is just a tad naughty to spice it up, Then this is for you...

    I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth T. Irwin 05-26-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    30
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really fascinating insights into women's roles"

    Fascinating to learn how the authorities of the day used women for intelligence gathering, a kind of magistrate's court, and institutionalized system of corruption. I wasn't sure how this sort of academic research would work as an audio book, but I actually enjoyed it. (Caveat: I'm a history geek.)

    The demi monde is so often used as a device in historical romance novels, but learning the reality behind it and how the power of bureaucracy was used to institutionalize the role into acceptable and unacceptable varieties was very satisfying. Historical authors will love this for research as the many vignettes of daily life suggest many plot possibilities.

    The narrator kept the audio from degenerating into a dry lecture. It felt more like an extended TED talk and I stayed highly engaged. Kudos, as keeping nonfiction engaging and enjoyable is difficult.

    “I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    debbye scroggins 05-26-17

    Love, love, love audio books. They are practically my sole form of entertainment. Have been a fan for nearly two decades. Love them!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great read for gender studies"

    Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth Century Paris is a highly interesting academic look at the lives of prostitutes as well as, among other topics, the rise of the police state in Paris.

    There were many instances where I was amazed at the autonomy some of these women enjoyed. There were times however that I wasn't surprised at all with the hardships experienced by them and others who sold sex to make a living.

    What made this especially interesting for me is how the author tells about the rise of the police state and the relationship between the prostitutes and the police as well as the impact the changing police actions/viewpoints had on society.

    Nina Kushner has written a very well researched work that was easily followed and understood. However, some of the French terminology would have been easier to follow in a hard copy of the work as opposed to the audio version.


    I would like to listen to more from Ms. Kushner, especially if the research was a continuation of what she presented here.

    I received this book for free In exchange for a review.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reader 05-23-17
    Reader 05-23-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Kept women and their place in society"

    If you are looking for titillation and "romance", move on. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a serious scholarly work in readable and enjoyable prose, this book is for you.

    Nina Kushner takes a good look at the life of elite prostitution and kept women in 18th century France, as well as their place in the hierarchical society of the time. Her main source are the remains of the archives of the department of the Paris police in charge of keeping track of kept women. Yes, such a department did exist and played an important role in regulating the elite sex market. Why did it exist and how did it operate? Listen or read the book to learn!

    These archives allows us to understand the different way young women entered the sex trade, how a career could develop, the ties between the different players in the market and, eventually, how they dropped out of sex work. Much remains unknown, of course, but this information allows a real world view that often contradicts the portrayals in the arts and gives a context to diarists and memoirs by "libertines."

    Most importantly, Kushner develops the idea of "sexual virtue" versus "sexual capital", as regarding the traditional path to marriage or the alternative of developing a career in sex work.

    Very enjoyable and eye opening.

    I received a free copy from the author in return for a fair and unbiased review.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rhonda walker 05-17-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    103
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A history lesson"
    What did you like best about Erotic Exchanges? What did you like least?

    I couldn't get into this book. I'm not sure if it was the book or the narration but this felt like I was sitting in on a lecture. Perhaps, if I was in the mood for a lecture this would be more interesting.


    If you’ve listened to books by Nina Kushner before, how does this one compare?

    I believe this was my first book by Nina


    What three words best describe Sally Martin’s performance?

    authoritative, clear and versatile. I felt she read this book like she was teaching.


    Was Erotic Exchanges worth the listening time?

    I'm sure it would be if I was more into history. It is an interesting topic and full of information so I may attempt this book at a later time when I am in the mood for a lecture on this topic.


    Any additional comments?

    I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Emily
    6/4/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Academic"

    I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

    This was a very academic historical work. I had been expecting a popular history type of book, but was pleasantly surprised with the style it was written in (and the regular references to Darnton). It details the different types of prostitutes (shocked for the majority of people who believe that a prostitute is a prostitute is a prostitute) which was pretty spectacular. Previously, my only encounter with prostitutes was The Secret Diary of a Call Girl and to see the actual rivalries and roles within eighteenth century Paris was really good. Also, I really liked the link between actresses and prostitutes. I've always been told that the ancient French word for actress was the same as the word for prostitute so to finally understand the link is pretty awesome.

    That being said, this book was really dry. I had to keep rewinding to listen to sections again in order to understand what was being said.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.