The hallmarks of the eighteenth century—its opulence, charm, wit, intelligence—are embodied in the age's remarkable women. These women held sway in the salons, in the councils of state, in the ballrooms, in the bedrooms; they enchanted (or intimidated) the most powerful of men and presided over an extraordinary cultural flowering of unprecedented luxury and sophistication. It is this captivating world that Olivier Bernier recreates. A world in which the shrewdness of Madame de Pompadour or the beauty of Madame du Barry could change the course of great nations. A world that could encompass the piquant frankness of Abigail Adams and the dark plotting of the queen of Naples. This world has been swept away, but its great ladies, the first modern women, still speak to us.
Fourteen dashing and sometimes tragic women—empress and dressmaker, bluestocking and courtesan—come to life here in a series of lavishly illustrated essays. Delightfully informative, this timely book charts the beginnings of women's liberation, illuminates the century for those who are unfamiliar with it, and provides new insights for those who know it well.