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The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R.by Carole Desanti
Synopses & Reviews
"Eugénie R. is every girl in a daguerreotype looking over her shoulder, every woman with a baby hurrying away from you down a gas-lit street, and then, too, she is the first of her kind, a woman who stands at her own barricades and fights a France determined to render her silent. I would have followed her down any narrow alley just to know what happened and to delay coming home." — Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress
"An unflinching portrait of love and loss against a landscape of Parisian decadence. ‘How does a woman learn to doubt herself? Eugénie R. wonders, but at the conclusion of this satisfying tale, she — and DeSanti — have won the reader's unwavering admiration." — Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches
“Epic times make for epic books … Wonderful, suspenseful reading.” — Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Second Empire Paris, greedy in peacetime and ravenous in war, is so richly and sensuously drawn one can almost feel it … Perhaps if her contemporary, Emma Bovary, had possessed the ingenuity, wit, and tenacity of Eugénie R., she wouldnt have had to take that arsenic.” — Valerie Martin, author of Property
“Against a carefully recreated landscape of France during the 1860s, with the Prussian army heading for Paris, DeSanti brings a twenty-first-century sensitivity for the plight and passions of women in her rendering of Eugénie.” — Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Dont Get Fat
"Penguin Group v-p and editor-at-large DeSanti presents an eclectic mix of ideas and social history in her debut novel. At 17, EugÃ©nie Rigault follows a seducer to Paris, but quickly finds herself on her own. She moves from artist's model to prostitute, takes lovers, and gives birth to — and gives away — a daughter. In five sections that each quote CÃ©leste Mogador's scandalous Memoirs and unfold against the mid-19th-century turmoil of the Second Empire, DeSanti chronicles EugÃ©nie's attempts to build a life for herself, survive as a woman, and reclaim her daughter. EugÃ©nie, an admittedly unreliable narrator who refuses to accept advice or learn from her mistakes, is difficult to root for; she acts on impulse and expects to be rescued (and she is). But readers will find passion in the writing; DeSanti's descriptions are full of lush, sensual detail. In the brothel, though she doesn't give a sense of the men or the quotidian grind, DeSanti shines in depicting the dynamics between the girls, the business, and EugÃ©nie's internal conflict. Though it's hard to care for such a self-centered heroine, the sweeping, fascinating epic is full of drama and beauty. Agent: Robin Strauss, the Robin Strauss Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Love, war, and commerce converge in this lush, epic story of a woman who follows her love to Paris, only to find herself marooned, pregnant, and penniless. Set around France's Second Empire, where absinthe, prostitution, vast wealth, and cataclysmic social upheaval abound, this novel delicately explores the contrary requirements of a woman's survival.
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A young woman follows the man she loves to Paris and finds, amid the wildness of Second Empire luxury and treachery, many loves to win and lose. She must also find a way to a life she can truly call her own.
"An arresting tale of what it meant to survive as a woman . . . [and] an unflinching portrait of love and loss against a landscape of Parisian decadence.”—Deborah Harkness
“Epic times make for epic books . . . Wonderful, suspenseful reading.”—Karen Joy Fowler
"Eugénie R. is every girl in a daguerreotype looking over her shoulder, every woman with a baby hurrying away from you down a gas-lit street, and then too, she is the first of her kind, a woman who stands at her own barricades and fights a France determined to render her silent. I lost myself whole-heartedly in her story, and would have followed her down any narrow alley, into any candlelit room, just to know what happened, to stay back there and to delay coming home."—Sarah Blake
“Fiction in the grand tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy.”—Howard Frank Mosher
"Lord! How beautifully this is written. How rare that is to discover."—Dorothy Allison
“As fiercely depicted as the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec.” — Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille
Love and war converge in this lush, epic story of a young womans coming of age during and after Frances Second Empire (1860-1871), an era that was absinthe-soaked, fueled by railway money and prostitution, and transformed by cataclysmic social upheaval.
Eugénie R., born in foie gras country, follows the man she loves to Paris but soon finds herself marooned. An outcast, she charts the treacherous waters of sexual commerce on a journey through artists ateliers and pawnshops, zinc bars and luxurious bordellos. Giving birth to a daughter she is forced to abandon, Eugénie spends the next ten years fighting to get her back, falling in love along the way with an artist, a woman, and a revolutionary. Then, as the gates of the city close on the eve of the Siege of Paris, Eugénie comes face to face with her past. Drawn into a net of desire and need, promises and lies, she must make a choice and find her way to a life that she can call her own.
"Eugénie R.s story drops us into the dark velvety centers of sex, sin, and political intrigue, and takes us along on her own instinctive journey to modern womanhood." — Lynn Hunt, Eugen Weber Professor of Modern European History, UCLA
"This astonishing debut is a panoramic story of war and peace, love and betrayal, innocence and hard-won wisdom." — Lauren Belfer, author of A Fierce Radiance
About the Author
Carole DeSanti, known for her championing of independent, high-quality voices in womens fiction as an editor at Penguin, has been clandestinely writing The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R. for over a decade. She has been profiled in Poets & Writers Magazine, published in the Womens Review of Books, and awarded fellowships at the Five College Womens Studies Research Center and Hedgebrook.
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