Mademoiselle Victorine

Debra Finerman, Author
Debra Finerman, Author . Crown/Three Rivers $13.95 (293p) ISBN 978-0-307-35283-5
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 07/01/2007

Finerman's debut novel chronicles the life of Victorine Laurent, whose beauty and ambition to "conquer Paris" leads her to become the favorite muse of Edouard Manet. Victorine poses for a portrait that will "change the direction of art forever," and the sexually charged painting indeed shocks the Grand Salon and helps Victorine capture the attention of the duke de Lyon, an adviser to Emperor Louis-Napoléon. The duke requests that Victorine become his mistress exclusively, and when she agrees, she must balance her feelings for Manet with her relationship to the duke and her rising notoriety. Finerman's juxtaposition of actual and fictional events and characters is far from seamless, and Victorine is too perfect to be believable. More attention to character and less to wardrobe would have lent needed depth. (July)