French Consul's Wife
'What a subject for a film, but not, please, Meryl Streep ... Together with Dr Patricia Clancy (Melbourne University) and Jeanne Allen's (La Trobe University) elegant translation and able notes, the memoirs make for a piquant, informative, variegated and often startling read ... Miegunyah Press you've done it again.' (Derek Whitelock, Weekend Australian)
A former Parisian courtesan, circus performer and dancer, Celeste de Chabrillan scandalised Melbourne society when she arrived in 1854 as the wife of the French Consul. These memoirs give a vivid firsthand account of the two-and-a-half years she spent in gold-rush Victoria.
Celeste's arrival in Melbourne was preceded by the publication of her memoirs describing her illegitimate birth, miserable adolescence and celebrity career as a courtesan, bareback rider and polka dancer. As a result she was dubbed the consul's 'harlot spouse' and ostracised by society.
Despite this, Celeste did not avoid the public gaze and continued to employ her literary talents. Her memoirs are of a life spent in the village of St Kilda, the diplomatic and government house circle and the Ballarat gold fields. Her descriptions of a public hanging, Governor Hotham's 'beer ball' and her own Ball for the Victims of Crimea reveal her as a woman of great energy and wilful temperament.
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