Mistresses by Elizabeth Abbott
A History of the Other Woman

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Synopsis

She has been called the "kept woman," the "fancy woman," and the "other woman." She exists as both a fictional character and as a flesh-and-blood human being. But who is she, really? Why do women become mistresses, and what is it like to have a private life that is usually also a secret life? Is a mistress merely a wife-in-waiting, or is she the ver y definition of the emancipated, independent female? Elizabeth Abbott intelligently examines the motives and morals of some of history's most infamous and fascinating women, from antiquity to today. Drawing intimate portraits of those who have--by chance, coercion, or choice--assumed this complex role, Mistresses offers a rich blend of personal biography and cultural insight.
 

About Elizabeth Abbott

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ELIZABETH ABBOTT is a writer, lecturer and historian with a special interest in women's issues, social justice, the treatment of animals, and the environment. She has a doctorate from McGill University in 19th century history. Her most recent book, A History of Marriage, completes her trilogy about human relationships following A History of Celibacy and A History of Mistresses. A History of Marriage was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Her previous book, Sugar: A Bittersweet History, inspired by her Antiguan heritage, was short-listed for the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. Born in Montreal, she has lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and now resides in Toronto. She is a grandmother and owns three dogs.
 
Published September 1, 2011 by Overlook Books. 522 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Abbott writes about the vulnerability of women in out-of-wedlock situations, beginning with the biblical story of Hagar, the bondwoman of Sarah, whom she calls “the first concubine to be named in recorded history.” The author relates this to the situation of Chinese concubines, who, as recently a...

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The Telegraph

Elizabeth Abbott, a Canadian academic whose previous books .

Dec 31 2010 | Read Full Review of Mistresses: A History of the ...

The Telegraph

As a type, mistresses have never come across as being quite real – at least not as real as wives – and Abbott suggests that it is the desire to live like a novelistic heroine, or one of the famous mistresses of the past, that attracts many women to the role in the first place.

Dec 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Mistresses: A History of the ...

Independent.ie

As a type, mistresses have never come across as being quite real -- at least not as real as wives -- and Abbott suggests that it is the desire to live like a novelistic heroine, or one of the famous mistresses of the past, that attracts many women to the role in the first place.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Mistresses: A History of the ...

London Review of Books

Elizabeth Abbott’s panoramic survey contains numerous examples of women who find themselves loving unavailable men but feeling disgust at the label of mistress (how happy they would have been to know that one day they would find themselves in a book subtitled ‘A History of the Other Woman’).

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New York Post

The French called them “maitresse” and the Romans referred to them as “concubina.” And while they may not always have earned a place in the history books, mistresses have been behind almost every great man -- just off to the side, perhaps hidden by a curtain.

Sep 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Mistresses: A History of the ...

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