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Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, Commencement. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Elle, Glamour, Men's Vogue, and the New York Observer, among others. She is a contributor to the essay anthology The Secret Currency of Love and co-editor of Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Author photo © Michael Lionstar
August 2012 Book of the Month. Four separate points of view from four female narrators of an extended family across three generations as they descend on their holiday beach house in Maine. Thought-provoking and well written, it beautifully portrays how they all knew in their hearts of hearts there is no such thing as a perfect family. Each and every one puts on their own public face which now cracks under the weight of secrets. A great book.
'Sullivan's outstanding book is the first to show how French courtesans were fully-fledged masters of the pen as well as proverbial ladies of the night. We learn how their rewriting of classics such as The Lady of the Camellias and their response to a male backlash inspire Colette in previously unseen ways.' - Nicholas White, University of Cambridge, UK This book is about the autobiographical fictions of nineteenth-century French courtesans. In response to damaging representations of their kind in Zola and Alexandre Dumas' novels, Celeste de Chabrillan, Valtesse de la Bigne, and Liane de Pougy crafted fictions recounting their triumphs as celebrities of the demi-monde and their outcries against the social injustices that pushed them into prostitution. Although their works enjoyed huge success in the second half of the nineteenth century, male writers penned faux-memoirs mocking courtesan novels, and successfully sowed doubt about their authorship in a backlash against the profitable notoriety the novels earned these courtesans. Colette, who did not write from personal experience but rather out of sympathy for the courtesans with whom she socialized, innovated the genre when she wrote three novels exploring the demi-mondaine's life beyond prostitution and youth.