Flora Tristán, the illegitimate child of a wealthy Peruvian father and French mother, grows up in poverty and journeys to Peru to demand her inheritance. On her return in 1844, she makes her name as a champion of the downtrodden, touring the French countryside to recruit members for her Workers' Union.
In 1891, Flora's grandson, struggling painter and stubborn visionary Paul Gauguin, abandons his wife and five children for life in the South Seas, where his dreams of paradise are poisoned by syphilis, the stifling forces of French colonialism, and a chronic lack of funds, though he has his pick of teenage Tahitian lovers and paints some of his greatest works.
Flora died before her grandson was born, but their travels and obsessions unfold side by side in this double portrait, a rare study in passion and ambition, as well as the obstinate pursuit of greatness in the face of illness and death.
For readers who have been drawn to The Paris Wife, Black Venus captures the artistic scene in the great French city decades earlier, when the likes of Dumas and Balzac argued literature in the cafes of the Left Bank. Among the bohemians, the young Charles Baudelaire stood out—dressed impeccably thanks to an inheritance that was quickly vanishing. Still at work on the poems that he hoped would make his name, he spent his nights enjoying the alcohol, opium, and women who filled the seedy streets of the city.
One woman would catch his eye—a beautiful Haitian cabaret singer named Jeanne Duval. Their lives would remain forever intertwined thereafter, and their romance would inspire his most infamous poems—leading to the banning of his masterwork, Les Fleurs du Mal, and a scandalous public trial for obscenity.
James MacManus's Black Venus re-creates the classic Parisian literary world in vivid detail, complete with not just an affecting portrait of the famous poet but also his often misunderstood, much-maligned muse.
This brilliantly entertaining novel is a fictionalization of the true story of Charles II (May 29, 1630 ? February 6, 1685), charting his daring flight to France after the Battle of Worcester, where Cromwell and his Protestant forces defeated the Catholic king. For six weeks, Charles' life was in danger as he hid in the English countryside, disguised as a servant, unable to find a way across heavily guarded borders. His loyal courtiers were appalled by the ease and glee with which he adopted his new humble identity, insisting on chatting and even drinking with ostlers and houseboys. Two young women were instrumental in his eventual escape and one of them became a lifelong friend of the exiled king.