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The Mistress of Paris

The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret
Narrated by: Sarah Nichols
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (60 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne was painted by Édouard Manet and inspired Émile Zola, who immortalized her in his scandalous novel Nana. Her rumored affairs with Napoleon III and the future King Edward VII kept gossip columns full.

But her glamorous existence hid a dark secret: She was no comtesse. She was born into abject poverty, raised on a squalid backstreet among the dregs of Parisian society. Yet she transformed herself into an enchantress who possessed a small fortune, three mansions, fabulous carriages, and art the envy of connoisseurs across Europe. A consummate show-woman, she ensured that her life - and even her death - remained shrouded in just enough mystery to keep her audience hungry for more.

Spectacularly evoking the sights and sounds of mid- to late 19th-century Paris in all its hedonistic glory, Catherine Hewitt's biography tells, for the first time ever in English, the forgotten story of a remarkable woman who, though her roots were lowly, never stopped aiming high.

©2017 Catherine Hewitt (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Dry bio of Vanity

I didn’t think this was remotely as interesting as other reviews and publisher’s summary made this out to be. It’s a highly favorable bio about a French courtesan. Very dry. No scandalous gossip worth retelling. It reads like an inventory: describing her house and clothing in detail in great detail. The plays she attended, art she collected, the books she read- these are the things I learned. Oh and she had the most impressive and expensive bed (prostitute’s throne). But this bio did not bring this woman to life. Considering I’d not heard of the Mistress of Paris before, what this biography did not tell me was why I should be interested in her. Why was this woman interesting or important? She was an absent mother, and lived only in pursuit of her own vanity.

The writing was just not compelling enough to live up to the title or the description.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars

Guaranteed Fabulous Dream Maker Listen

I listened to this every night before I went to bed. It made me dream of being there and watching these fabulously dressed women doing their thing. I want to be there and I want this life. it must have been marvelous.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved, listened to it three times.

A strong, fascinating, brilliant, cunning and beautiful lady. Yes, I said lady. Would love to be a guest at her "five o'clocks."

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fascinating unknown history

thoroughly enjoyable segment, like a slice of ripe tangerine,of French history. this story, like many others in history has inspired further reading of the period.The 186p's-1910 much like the 1960's through 2010. Both times of extreme political and social import. change! always change.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Could Have Been Better, No Drama in the Narration

What other book might you compare The Mistress of Paris to and why?

One hundred years earlier in England, an identical story of Lady Emma Hamilton had taken place. I found that to be a much better listen. England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, written by: Kate Williams. Or a fun 20th century con artisté, thief and sweetheart swindler purchase instead The Amazing Mrs. Livesey.

Was The Mistress of Paris worth the listening time?

It was better than the other dreary, boring books I had purchased.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic story

Wonderful ! I enjoyed this book so much and recommend it to everyone interested in a great story of a woman with determination and style.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful