Fernande: The Story of a Courtesan

Alexandre Dumas, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-312-02575-5
Available for the first time in English, this is an entertaining, if lesser novel of the great master. Unlike Dumas's rollicking historical romances, it is a morality piece, strictly 19th century in tone. Fernande, a beautiful, witty aristocrat, becomes a courtesan after being seduced at a young age by her guardian. She falls in love with the young Baron Maurice de Barthele and the two have a passionate romanceonly Maurice is allowed into her virginal white boudoirbut the relationship ends abruptly when Fernande discovers Maurice is already married. In a further reversal of the codes of conventional behavior, Maurice's mother sum mons Fernande to the family cha teau in hopes that she can cure Maurice of brain fever brought about by love sickness. Fully exploiting his satirical look at French society, Dumas makes the virtuous courtesan a catalyst for good who changes the lives of all the members of the de Barthele family. Shades of the sacrificial Camille are evident here, in the sentimental ending; Dumas fils later acknowledged his debt to his father's creation. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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