RoadTrip America

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In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant and Richard E. Grant(Narrator)


In the Company of the Courtesan

Fiametta Bianchini's luck has run out. Regarded as one of Rome's most desirable courtesans in 1527, her beauty, political contacts, wit and charm cannot protect her from the invading barbarians in Renaissance Italy. After being scarred, beaten and shorn of her signature golden curls, she and her faithful friend Bucino swallow their only assets, a handful of precious gems, and make their way to Venice where she once again becomes a sought-after courtesan. There they are alternately cheated and befriended by colorful and exotic merchants, mystics, and servants.

Sarah Dunant weaves a vibrant and magical tapestry of a city that is synonymous with sensual pleasure. What makes this story so unique is that it is told through the words of Bucino, a dwarf who is regarded as Fiametta's property, but is really her business manager, advisor, procurer and faithful friend. From his perspective, both as a diminutive oddity and as an outsider, we get to look up the skirts of Renaissance Venice.

Richard E. Grant's narration makes Bucino's telling of the tale seem very authentic. He creates a range of appropriate voices for the other characters that are, in turn, menacing, encouraging, spiteful and good-tempered. The cosmopolitan aura of Venice is suggested by his use of varied accents for the native and visiting characters.

You don't have to love Venice to enjoy this audio book, but if you happen to enjoy Venice, you'll love this story. Dunant has provided insight into the practical aspects of being a courtesan as well as giving rich descriptions of the prisons of the Doges Palace and the canals and alleyways of the city. I recommend this book for armchair travelers, history buffs, or anyone who appreciates the power of love.

Ruth Mormon

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