Mademoiselle Victorine Review
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For the last few weeks, I’ve been lost in an enchanting world full of painters, writers, dukes, empresses, and princesses, all centered around a young woman by the name of Victorine Laurent. And it all takes place in Paris. I think the author may have gotten into my head—because she gave me exactly what I needed.

Mademoiselle Victorine Laurent was raised in Alsace by her aunts after her mother died in childbirth. At the age of 13, she was shipped off to Paris to fend for herself. Four years later, we meet Victorine at the Paris Opera ballet school. She has a “protector,” which, she tells us, is a common thing among most of the girls she dances with. Her protector pays her bills—and the more money he has, the better off she is. While in Paris, Victorine meets Manet, Baudelaire, and Andre, and all three men become a significant part of her life. Manet asks her to pose for him, and she sees this as an opportunity to find a wealthier protector. Manet’s work is seen as very controversial to the general public, but it’s brilliant to some.

Victorine’s plan works. She becomes the mistress of the Baron de Rothschild, but she’s hated by the Empress Eugenie, a personal friend of Rothschild’s wife. After posing for another controversial portrait for Manet, she becomes the mistress of the Duke de Lyon.

Victorine gets everything she set out to get. Money. Power. Recognition. But she is constantly drawn back to the artist crowd, especially Manet. When she later ends up in jail, she finds out who her true friends are.

Mademoiselle Victorine takes place from 1858 to 1871. The character of Mademoiselle Laurent is loosely based on two people from history: Countess Virginia de Castiglione, an aristocratic courtesan, and Victorine Meurent, Edouard Manet’s favourite model and muse. I think the author did a fabulous job melding these two women together to make a character we can all fall in love with. And the unexpected twist at the end makes me want to go back and read the book again—just to see if there were any clues.

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