In the Company of the Courtesan

Version: Abridged
Author: Sarah Dunant
Narrator: Richard E. Grant
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio Assets
Published In: February 2006
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours
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My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor's army blew a hole in the wall of God's eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.
Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant's epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to become a miracle of east-west trade: rich and rancid, pious and profitable, beautiful and squalid.
With a mix of courage and cunning they infiltrate Venetian society. Together they make the perfect partnership: the sharp-tongued, sharp-witted dwarf, and his vibrant mistress, trained from birth to charm, entertain, and satisfy men who have the money to support her.
Yet as their fortunes rise, this perfect partnership comes under threat, from the searing passion of a lover who wants more than his allotted nights to the attentions of an admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his sultan's court. But Fiammetta and Bucino's greatest challenge comes from a young crippled woman, a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all.
A story of desire and deception, sin and religion, loyalty and friendship, In the Company of the Courtesan paints a portrait of one of the world's greatest cities at its most potent moment in history: It is a picture that remains vivid long after the final page.

Reviews (15)

Interesting enough

Written by Anonymous on November 16th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I wanted more character development in the story. The main characters never seemed to be fully flushed out, and the plot wasn't interesting enough on its own. The characters had a lot of potential, but that potential was never realized. Of course, maybe I felt this way because this was an abridged version.

Great book

Written by Anonymous on May 27th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Great "read". Wonderfully written story and great characters. Wish the unabridged version was available so I could have experienced the entire book...

Lovely "Read"

Written by Amy on December 4th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this story, but will admit I was not prepared for the ending to be so heavily focused on La Draga - I wanted to hear more about the life of Fiammetta. It left me wondering in the end who the father was of the baby girl...and a few other unanswered questions, but over all, the story was rich with detail.

In the Company of the Coutesan

Written by Anonymous on May 27th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Too bad this was abridged. There were some interesting characters, and I would liked to have seen how they were developed in the longer version. The book kept my interest....helped pass the time while I was driving to and from work.

In the Company of the Courtsean

Written by Sharon S on May 22nd, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I loved this book! Rich in detail and I loved the way it was read. All of the characters were interesting.


Written by Anonymous from Dallas, TX on April 28th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

The historical references and the visuals that the story conjured in my mind were very good. I could just see the ancient city of Venice and loved the storyline. Well done.


Written by Claudine on April 15th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I tried, I tell you, I tried. But, it was one of those "listens" where I was initially intrigued but then quickly repelled. I didn't make it past the first cd.

I wish I knew...

Written by Anonymous on February 2nd, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

From the synopsis, it sounds like a wonderful book. But, the reader was so overly dramatic with his highly British accent that I just found it too annoying to continue past the first half hour. I wish they'd get people to simply read the books without attempting to infuse the story with overdone theatrics.

great listen!

Written by Anonymous on January 10th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Like The Birth of Venus, this skillfully narrated book transported me to the magical time of the early Italian Renaissance. So often i found myself finishing chapters in parking lots or extending my lunch breaks just to get more of this fabulous read.

In the Company of the Courtesan

Written by Anonymous from Seattle, WA on June 15th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This book was very entertaining as well as a captivated insight into Renaissance Italy in the early 1500's. Throughly enjoyed the listen.

Author Details

Author Details

Dunant, Sarah

Sarah Dunant has written eight novels, including "The Birth of Venus" and three Hannah Wolfe novels -- "Birth Marks, Fatlands, " and "Under My Skin." She has worked widely in print, television, and radio. Now a full-time writer, she lives in London and Florence.