cover image The General’s Mistress

The General’s Mistress

Jo Graham. S&S/Gallery, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6721-9

Elzelina is seduced into marriage by an ambitious, grasping Dutch politician who soon turns cold and abusive. As the young French republic takes the first steps toward Bonaparte’s doomed empire, Elza flees her cruel husband for the relative safety of Gen. Victor Moreau. When the jealous Moreau turns on her as well, Elzelina, now known as Ida St. Elme, becomes an actress and writer; this demanding, arduous life provides the freedom conventional society has previously denied her. This dramatic and often erotic novel hews closely to the biography of the real Ida St. Elme (Maria Versfelt), whose many affairs and career provide more than enough material for an engaging narrative. The moments of occult adventure and predestined romance, revealed to Ida by second sight, are entirely unnecessary; her history was intimately entangled with events that reshaped Europe, and her struggle for autonomy and meaning require no fantastic embellishments. (Nov.)