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The Girl Who Loved Camellias

The Life and Legend of Marie Duplessis

Julie Kavanagh

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

From the author of Nureyev, the definitive biography of the celebrated Russian dancer, now comes the astonishing and unknown story of Marie Duplessis, the courtesan who inspired Alexandre Dumas fils’s novel and play La dame aux camélias, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Traviata, George Cukor’s film Camille, and Frederick Ashton’s ballet Marguerite and Armand. Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, Greta Garbo, Isabelle Huppert, Maria Callas, Anna Netrebko, and Margot Fonteyn are just a few of the celebrated actors, singers, and dancers who have portrayed her.

Drawing on new research, Julie Kavanagh brilliantly re-creates the short, intense, and passionate life of the tall, pale, slender girl who at thirteen fled her brute of a father and Normandy to go to Paris, where she would become one of the grand courtesans of the 1840s. France’s national treasure, Alexandre Dumas père, was intrigued by her, his son became her lover, and Franz Liszt, too, fell under her spell. Quick to adapt an aristocratic mien, with elegant clothes, a coach, and a grand apartment, she entertained a salon of dandies, writers, and artists. Fascinating to both men and women, Marie, with her stylish outfits and signature camellias, was always a subject of great interest at the opera or at the Café de Paris, where she sat at the table of the director of the Paris Opéra, along with the director of the Théâtre Variétés, the infamous dancer Lola Montez, and others. Her early death at age twenty-three from tuberculosis created an outpouring of sympathy, noted by Charles Dickens, who wrote in February 1847: “For several days all questions political, artistic, commercial have been abandoned by the papers. Everything is erased in the face of an incident which is far more important, the romantic death of one of the glories of the demi-monde, the beautiful, the famous Marie Duplessis.”   

      With The Girl Who Loved Camellias, Kavanagh has written a compelling and poignant life of a nineteenth-century muse whose independent and modern spirit has timeless appeal.

Publishers Weekly Review

Apr 08, 2013 – Thanks to a talented author, this tragedy is a pleasure to read. Already praised as a biographer, Kavanagh (Secret Muses: The Life of Frederick Ashton) intertwines the adventures of a famous courtesan with a fascinating period in Parisian history, with each scene spotlighting yet another titillating aspect of 1840s bohemia. Marie Duplessis was an unlikely demimondaine: she began life as an exploited peasant girl, but cultivated her looks and native intellect to gain entrée into cafes, salons, balls, and many high-born hearts—including those of Franz Liszt and Alexandre Dumas—and she played the muse for novels, plays, ballets, poetry, and the enduringly popular opera La Traviata. Charles Dickens called her “one of the glories of the demimonde” and reported that the estate sale following her death from tuberculosis at the age of 23 drew “everyone whom the capital of France counts as illustrious.” Yet a courtesan of her rank had a paradoxical status: socialites admired her from afar, but kept their distance in public. The result was a mixture of respect and disdain within a milieu of literati, cognoscenti, and royalty. Kavanagh’s book is a thoroughly researched and fascinating account of Duplessis’s short life and lengthy legacy. 16 pages of color photos.
The Girl Who Loved Camellias
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Jun 11, 2013
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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