Before reading a fabulous review of this book, I thought it was another historical romance ("not that there's anything wrong with that"). Courtesan = sex = bodice-ripper.
Instead, I found a fascinating look into the historical era of reformation in Rome. The book begins with the Protestants' takeover of Rome and the courtesan, Fiammetta Bianchini, planning her escape to Venice with her partner in crime, a dwarf named Bucino.
Dwarf. Courtesan. Not a romance.
In fact, there is little romance found in the life of a courtesan. The story is told through Bucino's point of view, a down-in-the-gutter perspective, and not just because of his height. Backstabbing, trickery, gambling... and all to keep his mistress in business.
Fiammetta is beautiful, yet cunning. Bucino is understandably horrific, necessary to keep the wheels running. The supporting characters, like Fiammetta and Bucino, are lonely, which only makes it seem like more like a strange, dysfunctional extended family.
I'm impressed with Dunant's depth of research. Well written and perfectly described.
4.75 out of 5.0 Mulled Wines.