Courtesan and Countess The Lost and Found Memoirs of the French Consul's Wife Jana Verhoeven, Alan Willey & Jeanne Allen

Celeste de Chabrillan was certainly a formidable woman.  She blamed her stepfather's abuse for setting her on the 'road to ruin' and became a famous courtesan, nicknamed Mogador.  She wanted respectability when she married the count, who was given the position of French Consul in Australia when seeking his fortune on the goldfields.  However, her memoirs detailed her adventures as a high-class courtesan so the snobbish ladies of Australian society refused to associate with her. She started to write successful novels in spite of this.

These memoirs concern her life in France after her husband died.  She wrote plays and novels and enjoyed the company of famous people including the Emperor himself.  They are interesting but fairly melodramatic and 'flowery'.  Celeste is often nasty, for example, she describes her step-daughter as useless.  However, she could be kind-hearted - she set up a home for orphans which is still a shelter for vulnerable girls today.

I am really more interested in Celeste's life in Australia but this is worth reading if you like the Victorian era.


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