In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
A Novel

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Synopsis

My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor’s army blew a hole in the wall of God’s eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.

Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant’s epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to become a miracle of east-west trade: rich and rancid, pious and profitable, beautiful and squalid.

With a mix of courage and cunning they infiltrate Venetian society. Together they make the perfect partnership: the sharp-tongued, sharp-witted dwarf, and his vibrant mistress, trained from birth to charm, entertain, and satisfy men who have the money to support her.

Yet as their fortunes rise, this perfect partnership comes under threat, from the searing passion of a lover who wants more than his allotted nights to the attentions of an admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his sultan’s court. But Fiammetta and Bucino’s greatest challenge comes from a young crippled woman, a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all.

A story of desire and deception, sin and religion, loyalty and friendship, In the Company of the Courtesan paints a portrait of one of the world’s greatest cities at its most potent moment in history: It is a picture that remains vivid long after the final page.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Sarah Dunant

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SARAH DUNANT is the author of international bestsellers Sacred Hearts, The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan. Her earlier novels include three Hannah Wolfe crime thrillers, as well as Snowstorms in a Hot Climate, Transgressions, and Mapping the Edge, all three of which are available as Random House Trade Paperbacks.

























Author Residence: London, England and Florence, Italy

























Author Hometown: London, England
 
Published April 11, 2006 by Random House. 400 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Company of the Courtesan

Kirkus Reviews

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Another tale of Renaissance Italy from Dunant (The Birth of Venus, 2003, etc.), this time replacing the art of painting with the art of seduction.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

Publishers Weekly

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Renaissance Italy enchants in Dunant's delicious second historical (after The Birth of Venus ), as a wily dwarf Bucino Teodoldo recounts fantastic escapades w

Oct 24 2005 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

The New York Times

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In her new novel about the model for Titian's "Venus of Urbino," Sarah Dunant balances between sordid realities and sweeping historical currents.

Mar 02 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

The New York Times

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The heroine of Sarah Dunant's novel is a fictitious Venetian courtesan whom we see through the eyes of a dwarf.

Mar 12 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

The Guardian

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In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant Little, Brown £12.99, pp408 Sarah Dunant is continuing along the trajectory set by her previous novel, The Birth of Venus, with the scene moving from 16th-century Florence to Venice.

Apr 16 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

The Guardian

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These tactics keep her alive for a night but after her most prized possession, her glorious hair - "streams of white gold and sunflower mixed with honey and red chestnut" - has been hacked off by "Lutheran harpies", she and Bucino - her devoted companion, business manager and pimp - realise that ...

Apr 08 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

Book Reporter

In contrast, THE BIRTH OF VENUS --- Dunant's first historical novel, set in 15th-century Florence --- and now IN THE COMPANY OF THE COURTESAN are lean, psychologically acute, richly imagined tales that evoke the Italian past with beauty and power.

Feb 14 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

USA Today

Sarah Dunant, the sorceress who conjured up the international sensation The Birth of Venus in 2004, returns Tuesday with her new novel, In the Company of the Courtesan.

Feb 23 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

BookPage

The pair arrive to find Fiammetta's mother dead and her house in the care of a slovenly woman who soon disappears, along with the ruby they had counted on to finance Fiammetta's entry into Venetian society.

Dec 30 2014 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

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Jul 23 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

Bookmarks Magazine

… Ultimately, it is Dunant’s ability to make Bucino such a human and humane character that makes [the novel] shine."

Aug 28 2007 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

Asian Review of Books

Peter Gordon is editor of The Asian Review of Books. In the Company of the
Courtesan, Sarah Dunant (Little, Brown Book Group, January 2007; Random
House ...

Mar 07 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Company of the Courtes...

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