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Using wits and beauty to survive Rome's fall

June 20, 2006|by ADDIE CUMPATA

"In the Company of the Courtesan" is a brilliantly descriptive novel by Sarah Dunant.

Ravaging despair, unholy lust, trifling deceit and compelling revenge brood within the walls of Rome during the Renaissance era. Fiammetta Bianchini, a courtesan, and Bucino, her dwarf companion, are caught in the conquest of Rome in 1527. This novel has an amazing description of the sacking of the city.

The pair migrate to Venice to re-establish themselves.

The loyalty between the dwarf and the lady is so great, that it would be a pity to destroy such a strong friendship. But when a flamboyant Turk falls for the lady, she can't help but rely on her dearest friend, her dwarf companion. Hidden jewels and riches keep the plot churning.

Then, a blind and disabled elderly woman helps them decipher their own futures, which will swerve into a cascade of troubles and unexpected turns.

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