The ballroom of the Alliance francaise of Melbourne was the perfect setting for the launch of Courtesan and Countess, the Lost and Found Memoirs of the French Consul’s Wife on Thursday 8 September. Prof. Peter McPhee and Prof. Colin Nettelbeck had the great pleasure to say a few words and Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie, Honorary Consul-General of France in Melbourne launched the book by Jana Verhoeven, Alan Willey and Jeanne Allen which tells the story of the fascinating life of Céleste Veinard, who later became the first French Consul’s Wife.
Celeste Veinard, dite Mogador when she was courtesan in the Parisian scene, married the Count Lionel de Chabrillan who became the First French Consul in Melbourne. Celeste and her sulfurous past has inspired many writers and academics. She embodies the very romantic theme of the courtesan rehabilitated through love, with her permanent quest for redemption.
She was also a prolific writer who gives us a chronicle of the history of France in the late XIXth century. Born under Louis XVIII in 1824, Celeste lived through Monarchy, the Second Republic, the Second Empire the Commune revolution to end her life as an old lady under the third French Republic.
Did she ever succeed in gaining respectability? It is for you to read the beautifully translated version of her memoirs and decide for yourself!