The research that must have gone into this book is amazing. The amount of detail as to how the system amongst courtesans work both in Rome and Venice, the intricacies of the local politic and the day to day workings of what was a very lucrative business which brought prostitution down to a fine art was fabulous.
Fiammetta successful at her work and Buccino her pimp are a match made in heaven. There is mutual admiration for each other, but does Buccino secretly pine for her. We do not know ever. Theirs is a relationship which goes beyond business but not lovers. Both rely on each other not just for success but for survival. This is a story of violence and horror and it opens with the sack of Rome and both Fiammetta and Buccino escaping with their lives and a few jewels, escaping to Venice to start all over again. Physically and mentally exhausted, they rebuild their lives with limited resources and start living again.
The wry humour to be found throughout the story - in good times and in hugely bad times is beyond description. That even in the worst of times, you can always smile at the language, at the descriptive manner in which something is portrayed is beautiful. There is magic in the language used and no holds barred either describing something sensual or even something mundane. You just have to read more and more. It became an addiction for me and I was very sorry when I finished the story.
The only good thing was that like a miracle I found another book by this author and now I have to go dig out the other seven she has written! This is a must read book for lovers of not just historical fiction, but for those who love strong women, good humour, beautiful use of language and descriptive surroundings.