A Year in Books/Day 160: My Blue Notebooks

  • Title: My Blue Notebooks The Intimate Journal of Paris’s Most Beautiful and Notorious Courtesan
  • Author: Liane de Pougy
  • Translation: Diana Athill
  • Year Published: This Edition: 2002 (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam)
  • Year Purchased: 2003/2004
  • Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
  • About: Liane de Pougy ended her long life as a nun. A devout one, no doubt, whose circumstances bore little resemblance to the notorious escapades that made her name more than half a century earlier. She was a premiere good-time girl of the Belle Epoque . A Folies Bergere dancer who, in middle age, married a prince. She knew Proust, and was a vituperative frenemy of Colette. Her journals, which she kept between the ages of 50 and 72 (roughly the years corresponding to her marriage), are nearly as astounding as her life. Although journals are the most intimate of settings, there is always the temptation to gloss over the truth of personal shortcomings or weak moments with the mask of who you wish you were. The projection of a nobler, better self.  There can be no doubt that de Pougy was not entirely inclusive (who is?), yet the woman laid out in her journals is not always likable. She is haughty and self-important and a dozen other meaner things. As the heroine of her own life, she is indelibly grand-and unforgettable: passion, candour, wit, resilience, a genuine desire for self-improvement and intelligence are a few of her finer qualities. She is one of the most interesting women of the century.
  • Motivation: I love weird and controversial women. Those who go against the grain. Oddities. Survivors.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 47: “I have to admit that I’m up to my neck in frivolity, buried in dresses to the point of ruin! Fifteen different garments! My wardrobe jam-packed! My girl, this is not the way for an old woman to behave-particularly since you never wear anything but black and white, or a little grey, so you always look as though you were in the same dress. Why fritter away your money so absurdly?”
  • Happiness Scale: 8
    A postcard depicting Liane de Pougy.

    A postcard depicting Liane de Pougy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


9 thoughts on “A Year in Books/Day 160: My Blue Notebooks

  1. Sounds great! Thanks for the review, too many books written about men during these times, not enough about interesting women, love your motivation for reading. Have you read ‘A Scandolous Life: The Biography of Jane Digby’ by Mary S Lovell? I loved this book, she was an adventurous woman ahead of her time.


    • Thank you! That is also my typical motivation for my (real world) writing: interesting dead ladies, usually writers, artists, intellectuals or feminists (or any combination thereof). I have not read (or heard of) A Scandalous Life. I will definitely add it to my must-read list. Thanks for the recommendation.


  2. This sounds amazing; I’ll have to try to find a copy! What you wrote about her makes me think of Anais Nin, who I love (I think she’s kind of a “love her or hate her” personality).


    • Judging by all evidence, Liane had a very strong, unapologetic personality. That definitely sounds like Anais Nin (who I also love). Homogeneous perfection bores me!


  3. Pingback: Focus On: Book Blogs | The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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