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The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R.

Carole DeSanti

739 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1455160687 / ISBN 13: 9781455160686
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2012
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R.

Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Publication Date: 2012

Binding: Audio CD

Book Condition: New

Edition: Unabridged.

About this title

Synopsis:

Love and war converge in this lush, epic story of a young woman's struggle with life and love during and after the Second Empire (1860-1871), an era that was absinthe-soaked, fueled by railway money and prostitution, and transformed by cataclysmic social upheaval.

Eugenie R., born in France's foie gras country, follows the man she loves to Paris but soon finds herself marooned, pregnant, and penniless. She gives birth to a daughter she is forced to abandon and spends the next ten years fighting to get her back. An outcast, Eugenie takes to the streets, navigating her way up from ruin and charting the treacherous waters of sexual commerce. Along the way she falls in love with an artist, a woman, and a revolutionary. The capital, the gleaming center of art and civilization in Europe, is enjoying its final years of wanton prosperity before galloping headlong into the Franco-Prussian War. For Eugenie it is a conflicted landscape--grisly, evocative, and addictive. As the gates of the city close against the advancing army, Eugenie must make a decision between past and present--between the people she loves most.

The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R. is a testament to the power of love, friendship, and the art of self-creation.

Review:

Sheri Holman Reviews The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R.

Sheri Holman is the award-winning author of four novels, including The Dress Lodger, a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book; The Mammoth Cheese, shortlisted for the UK's Orange Prize; and most recently, Witches on the Road Tonight, a New York Times Book Review Editors Choice, named one of the best books of 2011 by the Boston Globe and Toronto's Globe and Mail, and awarded the Independent Publisher Book Awards’ gold medal for literary fiction.

Carole DeSanti, longtime editor of literary superstars like Dorothy Allison and Terry McMillan, has been leading a secret life. For the past ten years she's been crafting a novel of her own, and The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R. is as much a personal meditation on women's emotional and professional tradeoffs as it is a sweeping saga of the decadent Paris that spawned Madame Bovary.

Lured to the city by the empty promises of a ne'er-do-well nobleman, sixteen-year-old goose girl Eugénie Rigault finds herself abandoned, destitute, and, unsurprisingly, pregnant. Life with a bohemian painter brings her brief fame, but soon enough, Eugénie must choose between starvation or the illicit sorority of Les Deux Soeurs, one of Paris's notorious state-legislated tolerated houses. Over a decade marked by absinthe-soaked parties and the famine of the Franco-Prussian War, Eugénie struggles to reconcile the two parts of her divided self--"the one that observed the world but could not act; the other that moved heedlessly, lacking a sense of the world's consequence."

In DeSanti's deeply sensual novel, the foie gras melts on the tongue and the perfumes threaten, at times, to overwhelm. But her sharp eye for the hypocrisies of power dynamics elevates this novel far above the hothouse. In a meeting with the radical Communards, Eugénie finds an uneasy kinship. "To look into their eyes.... was to feel the creep of something familiar. Of deals made far above one's head, out of one's view; destiny on the chopping block." Like the painting that made her famous, Eugénie is the quintessential "Unknown Girl," at the mercy of social forces inexorable and incomprehensible, doing the best she can to get by.

While there's plenty of satisfying hetero- and homoerotic groping, don't read this fiercely intelligent novel if you simply want a good love story dressed up in period clothes. Read it for the complex sexual politics, lush language, and mirror onto our own excessive, heedless times.

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