cover image Sisters of Salome

Sisters of Salome

Toni Bentley. Yale University Press, $35 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-300-09039-0

Former NYC ballerina and independent scholar Toni Bentley offers a study of four famous women who created versions of the legendary femme fatale Salome (popularized by Oscar Wilde) in Sisters of Salome, a cultural study and the story of an obsession. Bentley explores the experiences of women who have tapped into the power of the nude female body, particularly four who found fame by portraying Salome: Maud Allen, Mata Hari, Ida Rubenstein and Colette. Bentley gives a sketch of each woman's life and what compelled them to dance their own versions of Salome, showing how she was ""not only a misogynist, masochistic male fantasy, but a heterosexual, sadistic female fantasy as well."" (Yale Univ., $27.95 288p ISBN 0-300-09039-0; May)