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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Black Venus: A Novel by James MacManus

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

A VIVID NOVEL OF CHARLES BAUDELAIRE AND HIS LOVER JEANNE DUVAL, THE HAITIAN CABARET SINGER WHO INSPIRED HIS MOST FAMOUS AND CONTROVERSIAL POEMS, SET IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY PARIS.

For readers who have been drawn to The Paris Wife, Black Venus captures the artistic scene in the great French city decades earlier, when the likes of Dumas and Balzac argued literature in the cafes of the Left Bank.  Among the bohemians, the young Charles Baudelaire stood out - dressed impeccably thanks to an inheritance that was quickly vanishing.  Still at work on the poems that he hoped would make his name, he spent his nights enjoying the alcohol, opium, and women who filled the seedy streets of the city.

One woman who would catch his eye - a beautiful Haitian cabaret singer named Jeanne Duval.  Their lives would remain forever intertwined thereafter, and their romance would inspire his most infamous poems - leading to the banning of his masterwork, Les Fleurs du Mal, and a scandalous public trial for obscenity.

Black Venus re-creates the classic Parisian literary world in vivid detail, complete with not just an affecting portrait of the famous poet but also of his often misunderstood, much-maligned muse.

my thoughts:

OMG! Literary historical fiction is where its at!! I could not, nay, would not put down Black Venus until I had read the last page.  The book was just so damn captivating - it had me at Charles Baudelaire!!  Seriously, this book is one of the BEST Lit/Hist fiction books I've ever read.  It had drama, love, obsession, poetry, scandal, opium, infidelity, a trial, and heartbreak.  This book was like a well written soap opera (which I'm a fan of - yes, I used to be addicted to Y&R, Days, Passions, etc.) and I was hooked.

James MacManus writes about Paris in the 1800s and let me just say, his vivid descriptions and historical details provide a clear picture of the scene.  I could easily imagine the clothing, the decadence, and debauched lifestyle embraced by Charles Baudelaire and his mistress.  And I could even smell the foods, perfumes and rain soaked streets of Paris and found myself dizzy with excitement for this book, this story.  Yep, MacManus had me at his book's cover.  I was intrigued by the woman and her stance - it left me wondering who she was and what had happened to her.  Let me tell you, this is one tough lady who manages to get what she needs and wants and has no qualms about exploiting her sexuality to do so.  She's cunning, beautiful, and quite an inspiration to a certain poet named Charles Baudelaire.  Their relationship is filled with crazy drama involving infidelity, opium addiction, and desire.  For some reason they can't seem to let one another go, in spite of the fact that they are so bad for each other.  Its fascinating to read all about it - I swear you can't help but get caught up in it all.  Especially, when there is poetry at stake.

Baudelaire is taken to task for his work - its considered to be too explicit.  He has to endure a trial where the court is charging him for being so scandalous in his poetry.  His goal has always been to write poems that are are about life, which means that they will be about love, passion, sex, drugs, etc.  He does not want to go down in history as a poet who wrote about horses, flowers, and sunsets.  However, what he wants may just come at a price.  Exciting, eh?

Well, believe me, it really is.  So, yes, I would most definitely recommend this terrific new book, Black Venus to anyone and everyone who is a fan of literary fiction, historical fiction, and Charles Baudelaire - you will LOVE this book!!

Check out this video of author, James MacManus talking about his fantastic new novel, Black Venus:


He makes you want to read his book, doesn't he?  Well, go for it!  You'll be glad you did - I know I am.


Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

9 comments:

Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader said...

Yes! I couldn't agree more. This was a fascinating read! :D I'm so glad that you liked it

Nadia said...

Jennifer, me too! When I read your review of it, I knew I was going to love this book :)

Rebecca @ Love at First Book said...

"OMG! Literary historical fiction is where its at!!"

This made me smile!!!! :)

Nadia said...

Rebecca, :)

Mary Jo Burke said...

Beautiful cover and great story

Nadia said...

Mary Jo, precisely ;)

wordsforworms.com said...

This sounds glorious!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Wow, awesome review. I'm not sure the book is for me, but your review makes it sound incredibly appealing!

Nadia said...

wordsforworms, it really was :)

Holly, thanks!