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Mathilde Heloise Beaugiron was a precocious six-year-old, filled with curiosity and a desire for adventure.  From a working-class family living on the Butte Montmartre, her father was a member of the Communards.  Mathilde lost her father and uncle in the battle, forcing her mother to make a living for herself and her sister. 


Mathilde grew into a beautiful young woman and her mother knew one day she may suffer at the hands of callous man.  She did not know how to protect her, so when the courtesan Valtesse de la Bigne offered to take Mathilde under her tutelage, her mother felt she had no choice.  If the beds of men were her daughter’s destiny, then she wanted her to be among the courtesans of Paris who were well cared for by their patrons.


Soon, she would find herself the consort to Prime Ministers, and Presidents.  She would acquire land and wealth usually at the expense of those she felt had betrayed the Communards.  In the end, she transformed herself into one of the most influential courtesans of France:  Marthe De Florian.


But what happened to her?  How is it that seventy-years after the Germans invaded France an apartment in the 18th Arrondissement is unlocked for the first time?  Its contents reveal she was a woman of refined taste.  The love letters and calling cards reveal she entertained powerful men.  And one painting reveals the epic story of love, art, and Paris in the Belle Epoque. 


She was the true love of a great artist.  She was his inspiration.  She was Boldini’s Muse.


It was fun to read and a delightful story.   She was quite the muse even for the French.

Eric S.


I loved this book! I was so engrossed in the story that I just wanted it to keep going!! 

Binta J.

Found the story fascinating. Spent time looking up more information on the communards, Boldini, and the belle epoch. I like it when a book encourages me to know more.

W.C. W.


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