Marguerite is a courtesan. Every day she carries a bouquet of Camellias. Twenty five days of the month they are white, five days they are red. She goes to the theatre and mixes with Dukes and Counts. She lives a high lifestyle funded by her lovers. Then she meets Armand.
And falls in love. But he isn't rich. He cannot keep he in the style to which she is accustomed. At first she continues with her life and he tries to rationalise it that it is like having an affair with a married woman; he has to accept that she sleeps with other men. But their love is strong so they retire to the countryside and set up house together. Secretly she sells her horses and pawns her jewels so that they can afford to live. Armand assigns the income from the inheritance he got from his mother to Marguerite. Armand's father is not best pleased.
The books starts slowly at first with the framing story of the narrator who attends the auction of the dead courtesan's possessions and then meets Armand. Armand then tells the narrator his story. So it starts slowly twice over because after the auction and the mystery of finding Armand we have to go through the slow build up of Armand's meeting Marguerite and falling in love. But once they have set up house together and we know that they cannot live happily ever after because of her past, because of his poverty, because of her extravagance, because of his father; because of all of these pressures the tale then moves inexorably to its doomed outcome. In this part it becomes very compelling indeed.
Written by the son of the man who wrote the Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, this book became the inspiration for Verdi's opera La Traviata.
Brilliant. October 2014; 206 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57