The Mistress of Paris
The 19th-century Courtesan Who Built An Empire on A SecretUnknown - 2017 | First U.S. edition.
Catherine Hewitt's The Mistress of Paris is a fantastically readable biography of a nineteenth-century Parisian courtesan who harbored an incredible secret.
"A gorgeous, smart, ambitious, hard-working, steely autodidact and businesswoman whose product was herself, Valtesse would be totally at home in our self-branding society." -- The New York Times Book Review
Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne was painted by Ã%douard Manet and inspired Ã%mile Zola, who immortalized her in his scandalous novel Nana . Her rumored affairs with Napoleon III and the future King Edward VII kept gossip columns full. But her glamorous existence hid a dark secret: she was no comtesse.
Valtesse was born into abject poverty, raised on a squalid backstreet among the dregs of Parisian society. Yet she transformed herself into an enchantress who possessed a small fortune, three mansions, fabulous carriages, and art the envy of connoisseurs across Europe. A consummate show-woman, she ensured that her life--and even her death--remained shrouded in just enough mystery to keep her audience hungry for more.
Spectacularly evoking the sights and sounds of mid- to late nineteenth-century Paris in all its hedonistic glory, Catherine Hewitt's biography tells, for the first time ever in English, the forgotten story of a remarkable woman who, though her roots were lowly, never stopped aiming high.