Finerman, Debra (Debra Lewis)
Finerman, Debra (Debra Lewis)
Writer, novelist, editor, journalist, art historian, and columnist. Beverly Hills Magazine, founder and coeditor. Worked for Christie's (an auction house).
Mademoiselle Victorine (novel), Three Rivers Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Author of column "It's a Rap," Hollywood Reporter Magazine; Tube (a TV magazine), associate editor.
Contributor to periodicals, including Capital Style, Beverly Hills Today, and Fresh Fiction. Author of the blog Frenchimpressionista. Has written under the name Debra Lewis.
Debra Finerman is a journalist and art historian. She worked in TV and entertainment journalism in Los Angeles and founded her own publication, Beverly Hills Magazine. On the east coast, she worked as a writer for Capital Style magazine. She pursued her interest in art and art history as an employee of the famed auction house Christie's, and earned her graduate degree through Christie's Education program for Connoisseurship and the Art Market. Her work at Christie's brought her into contact with works and materials from Impressionist Paris, particularly the works of the painter Manet. This interest in Manet and his longtime model and muse Victorine Meurent, provided the inspiration for Finerman's first book of fiction.
In her debut novel, Mademoiselle Victorine, Finerman tells the story of Victorine Laurent, a determined and beautiful woman who overcomes a difficult childhood, an unwanted pregnancy, and betrayal by a powerful figure to become a sensation in Impressionist-era France. Raised by two uncaring aunts who sold her into the care of a male "protector" at age thirteen, Victorine becomes a stunning beauty at seventeen. As a lorette, she is of higher social class than a common prostitute, but lacks the sophistication and opportunity that mark the often luxurious life of a French courtesan. When she is spotted by artist Edouard Manet, she soon becomes his most frequent artistic subject and the source of inspiration for much of his work. For her part, she also falls in love with Manet, but refuses to marry or sleep with him so that she will always remain desirable to him. Victorine poses for a stunning but scandalous nude portrait by Manet, and the resulting painting catapults her to fame among the salons and intelligentsia of France.
The painting also brings her to the attention of Duke de Lyon, a close associate and confidante of Emperor Louis Napoleon. The Duke takes Victorine under his care, providing her with a mansion and a generous income. His patronage comes with numerous demands, not least of which is that Victorine stop posing for Manet. He also asks her to do some sexually-based espionage work, and even makes her available to the Emperor himself. Hated by the Empress Eugenie, Victorine is arrested on false charges of treason. With Manet's help, she is able to save herself, even as she falls victim to further predations by the Duke de Lyon. In the background, events such as the war, the blockade of Paris, and other important political and social happenings add urgency and realism to Victorine's unfolding story.
The fictional Victorine is based on a composite of two real-life women, one of whom was Manet's main model, and the other an aristocratic French courtesan. "The portrait that results from the blending of these two personalities creates a vivid picture of not just Victorine's character, but of the creative people, societal values and the explosive political atmosphere of her day," commented Nancy Davis on the Romance Reader at Heart Web site. In the book, Finerman "accurately portrays the extravagance and decadence of the court of Louis Napoleon, the rising ire of the working class, and a surge of enlightened artists and writers," remarked critic Luan Gaines on the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site. BookLoons Web site critic Lisa Respers France concluded: "With art, politics and social commentary as a backdrop, Mademoiselle Victorine will appeal to lovers of historical fiction who don't mind a healthy dash of romance thrown in, and a main character who takes a bit to grow on you."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of Mademoiselle Victorine.
Publishers Weekly, April 2, 2007, review of Mademoiselle Victorine, p. 36.
Blog Critics,http://blogcritics.org/ (August 11, 2007), Jill Hart, review of Mademoiselle Victorine.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (February 19, 2008), Lisa Respers France, review of Mademoiselle Victorine.
Crystal Reviews,http://www.crystalreviews.com/ (July 14, 2007), Viviane Crystal, review of Mademoiselle Victorine.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (February 19, 2008), Luan Gaines, review of Mademoiselle Victorine.
Debra Finerman Home Page,http://www.debrafinerman.com (February 19, 2008).
Romance Reader at Heart,http://romancereaderatheart.com/ (February 19, 2008), Nancy Davis, review of Mademoiselle Victorine.
Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (February 19, 2008), Kathe Robin, review of Mademoiselle Victorine.