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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (11,575 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sarah Dunant Narrator: Stephen Hoye Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2006 ISBN: 9781415931929
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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 Courtesanpaints 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.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Leyendecker | 2/11/2014

    " I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel about the fall of Rome. There characters are quite unusual, and the story has some unique twists. The history was also very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 2/8/2014

    " A great historical fiction novel from a period that is not frequently written about, the Sack of Rome and Italy in the 16th century. About a well-paid courtesan from the point of view of her dwarf servant, this novel is a page-turner and a fun read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jules | 1/16/2014

    " Historical fiction is one of those genres I've always relinquished to my sister, but having read two of Dunant's novels over the summer, I've come away with a certain appreciation for the art form. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brooke | 1/13/2014

    " Beautifully vivid images of Rome and Venice in the mid-1500's abound in this book. However, the really intriguing story doesn't happen until the final 100 pages! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kimberley | 1/7/2014

    " Not my favorite Dunant book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eli | 1/1/2014

    " Not a very compelling story, pretty much very predictable, but it wasn't badly written at all. So this was a fun read that wasn't painful at the same time! :o) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 12/30/2013

    " Loved it. Couldn't put it down! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 G. | 12/19/2013

    " Amazing sense of time and place with a unique perspective. Not sure how accurate it is, but I felt like I was in 16th century Venice with them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valerie | 12/15/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. A subject I never would have considered but it was well written and informative and entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather Perreault | 12/12/2013

    " "semi-historical" fiction - enjoyable, but didn't really grab me and make a big impression. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meghan | 11/13/2013

    " This was a book club selection. I couldn't finish it and ended up returning it. Most of us didn't like it, a few did. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Casey | 11/10/2013

    " Another great read....historically interesting and great story! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natalie sagadevan | 7/3/2013

    " If you are a lover of historical fiction its a good read. Not a good as "The Birth of Venus" which was terrific and I recommend highly. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melvago | 3/28/2013

    " An epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 9/24/2012

    " Starts slow but worth reading for the moving ending, this historical and sensuous novel takes a look at a courtesan and her dwarf businesspartner escaping the sack of Rome by Lutherans in favour of decadent Venice. Thee are very dry, slow parts but equally emotional and enjoyable ones. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 ghost | 8/10/2012

    " I am enjoying it on CD in the car. I like the narrator-dwarf-pimp point of view "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marjorie | 5/31/2012

    " This book is haunting; even after 5 years since reading it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 3/17/2012

    " Not only was the historical setting of the novel informative and the story fascinating, the writing is some of the best I've read. I'm awestruck by people who have the ability to put words together as this author does. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mstookey | 11/27/2011

    " one of the most interesting historical fiction books "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amber | 11/18/2011

    " Amazing, faceted, and beautifully crafted. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cameron | 9/27/2011

    " Bucino's perspective adds an intriguing layer to this book - he is narrator and actor and I recall this distinction melding skillfully throughout the lush evocation of a Venice past. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Korie K | 8/10/2011

    " Very good book. It was quite interesting and I wish more was available to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elaine | 5/14/2011

    " Even though I liked all three Renaissance Italy books written by this author this was by far my favorite - I absolutely loved this narrator's "voice". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bonnie | 5/8/2011

    " The characters were memorable. By the end of the book I felt I had lived during the 1500's and had a glimpse at a very different life. I also appreciated the author's research. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lissette | 5/4/2011

    " Not what i was expecting but still a good read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mary | 5/3/2011

    " I did not like this at all; not even a plot to keep me in it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Evelyn | 4/12/2011

    " Incredibly interesting piece of historical fiction about the sack of Rome told from the perspective of a famous courtesan and her constant companion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy | 4/3/2011

    " This really is a book to savour - I found myself deliberately slowing down to absorb it better, and it's definitely worth the effort. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 4/2/2011

    " Actually audio book. I enjoyed it and gave a good sense of the times in the 1500s in Venice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claudette | 3/15/2011

    " Eh, it was OK. Fine to read if you have nothing else to read but not my favorite. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 3/4/2011

    " Starts slow but worth reading for the moving ending, this historical and sensuous novel takes a look at a courtesan and her dwarf businesspartner escaping the sack of Rome by Lutherans in favour of decadent Venice. Thee are very dry, slow parts but equally emotional and enjoyable ones. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 2/24/2011

    " Not as much fun as her Birth of Venus, which I thought did a better job of integrating the history into the story, but still an engrossing story. "

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About the Author
Author Sarah Dunant

Sarah Dunant is the author of the international bestsellers The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, Sacred Hearts, and Blood and Beauty, which have received major acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Her earlier novels include three Hannah Wolfe crime thrillers, as well as Snowstorms in a Hot Climate, Transgressions, and Mapping the Edge.

About the Narrator

Stephen Hoye has worked as a professional actor in London and Los Angeles for more than thirty years. Trained at Boston University and the Guildhall in London, he has acted in television series and six feature films and has appeared in London’s West End. His audiobook narration has won him fifteen AudioFile Earphones Awards.