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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the acclaimed Queen of Fashion - a brilliant look at the glittering world of turn-of-the-century Paris through the first in-depth study of the three women Proust used to create his supreme fictional character, the Duchesse de Guermantes.
Geneviève Halévy Bizet Straus; Laure de Sade, Comtesse de Adhéaume de Chevigné; and Élisabeth de Riquet de Caraman-Chimay, the Comtesse Greffulhe - these were the three superstars of fin-de-siècle Parisian high society who, as Caroline Weber says, "transformed themselves, and were transformed by those around them, into living legends: paragons of elegance, nobility, and style." All well but unhappily married, these women sought freedom and fulfillment by reinventing themselves, between the 1870s and 1890s, as icons. At their fabled salons, they inspired the creativity of several generations of writers, visual artists, composers, designers, and journalists. Against a rich historical backdrop, Weber takes the reader into these women's daily lives of masked balls, hunts, dinners, court visits, nights at the opera or theater. But we see as well the loneliness, rigid social rules, and loveless, arranged marriages that constricted these women's lives. Proust, as a 20-year-old law student in 1892, would worship them from afar, and later meet them and create his celebrated composite character for The Remembrance of Things Past.
©2018 Caroline Weber (P)2018 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

“A captivating triple biography…Focusing on three alluring women who were objects of Proust’s fascination, Weber portrays in rich detail a French aristocracy threatened by profound social and political change…Weber offers intimate details of their love affairs, betrayals, friendships, and rivalries; their worries over money and status…She recounts vividly the plush ambience, dress, and décor of their châteaux and palaces as well as the parties and salons peopled by royalty, artists, and writers who mesmerized the young, aspiring, impressionable Proust. A palpable, engrossing portrait of three extraordinary women and their tempestuous, fragile world.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Thanks to her astonishing, prize-worthy research, Caroline Weber knows more about the three real women Proust modelled the Duchesse de Guermantes on than the mythologizing Proust himself did. This is social history at its best.” (Edmund White, author of Marcel Proust: A Life)
“Better than Proust.” (Cécile David-Weill, author of The Suitors and Crush)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ashley on 07-16-18

great story and performance

fascinating biographies of 3 captivating women and great french pronunciation on the part of the narrator. highly recommended

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