An important document in the representation of sex work, "Camille" is the story of a "kept woman" and the man who falls in love with her. It's really about the blurry boundaries between cynical, commercial sex and true love. The narrator hears the story from Armand, who had fallen in love with Marguerite, the lady of the camellias, a highly paid courtesan who had previously made her living by exchanging her affection for financial support. They try to make a go of it as a true pair of lovers, setting aside her earlier work, but societal expectations and her own financial need thwart their intentions. In addition, there are the usual misunderstandings and jealousies between lovers. She dies and her realizes the error of his ways.
If you're looking for a real depiction of the hardships of sex work, you have to dig a little and read between the lines. You find out here and there that Marguerite came from a poor family, that she never got an education, that she has to put up with a lot of unappealing men. While Armand genuinely loves Marguerite, he does essentially offer to pay one of her friends for sexual/erotic/romantic services as a way of hurting her when their relationship is on the rocks.
At times, the narrative dragged a little, hence the somewhat low rating. But at the end it picked up again.
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; 1 edition (21 August 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014310702X
- ISBN-13: 978-0143107026
- Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.7 x 19.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 200 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 516,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)