Michael Woodhead

MADEMOISELLE VICTORINE

Debra Finerman
Three Rivers Press
2007
978-0-307-35283-5
Historical Fiction

Although primarily interested in Art Nouveau and the latter half of the nineteenth century, nevertheless I looked forward to reading this book. It promised a diversity of subjects-art, music, sexuality, and politics.

As a young girl, Victorine vows to do whatever she can to find her place in the world. She uses her wiles, her sensuality, and her determination to succeed to take her from being a model for a painter (and the subject of a controversial--for its time--nude portrait) to the mistress of a politician, and from the paint-spattered studios of Parisian artists to the bloody fields of the Franco-Prussian war.

I wasn't in the least disappointed with Mademoiselle Victorine. With epic-like qualities, the novel sweeps us through the mid-1800s, introducing us, through the main character, to such fascinating historical characters as Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Louis-Napoleon, and even Bismarck.

Skillfully interweaving historical data into her fiction without being intrusive or distracting, Finerman creates a believable and captivating world of artists and prostitutes, soldiers and politicians. With a background in art history and journalism, as well as having read the works of Balzac, Flaubert, Stendhal, Zola, and Proust in French and English, the author uses her knowledge and keen interest to draw the reader into a delightful and intriguing book.


BACK