The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R. by Carole DeSanti, narrated by Kate Reading
Published in audio by Blackstone Audio, published in print by TK
From the publisher:
Love and war converge in this lush, epic story of a young woman’s struggle with life and love during and after the Second Empire (1852 – 1871), an era that was absinthe-soaked, fueled by railway money and prostitution, and transformed by cataclysmic social upheaval.
Eugénie R., born in foie gras country, follows the man she loves to Paris but soon finds herself marooned. An outcast, she charts the treacherous waters of sexual commerce on a journey through artists’ ateliers and pawnshops, zinc bars and luxurious bordellos.
Giving birth to a daughter she is forced to abandon, Eugénie spends the next 10 years fighting to get her back, falling in love along the way with an artist, a woman, and a revolutionary. Then, as the gates of the city close on the eve of the Siege of Paris, Eugénie comes face to face with her past. Drawn into a net of desire and need, promises and lies, she must make a choice and find her way to a life that she can call her own.
Thoughts on the story:
There is an awful lot going on in The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R. and it is, perhaps, slightly overambitious. However, the fact that it is told from the perspective of not only a single woman, but a woman whose name is in the register of prostitutes, which makes her even less than a second class citizen, brings something to the story that is both fascinating and helps it be cohesive. DeSanti is covering a lot of historical ground here, and the strength of Eugenie’s character helps hold it all together, as it could have easily been a loose mess of historical vignettes.
Thoughts on the audio production:
Narrator Kate Reading seems to fit Eugenie’s character very well, with accurate French pronunciation where necessary. At over 16 hours, a lesser narrator could have made this a very dull listen indeed, but Reading kept me engaged and interested in Eugenie’s life.
For more on the audio production, see my review for Audiofile Magazine.
A long but engaging listen. Recommended
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