Book Review: Madam

Marie Deubler and her brother Peter were orphaned at an early age and given to an uncle who proceeded to pimp her out when she was twelve. Nothing more then a lowly alley whore sharing a crib with a black woman, Mary was street smart and determined to better herself at every opportunity. The year is 1897 and Mary secretly dreams of one day having enough money to leave the squalid streets behind, not an easy task when alderman Sidney Story is unwavering in his crusade to close down Venus Alley. Meanwhile the rather shady entrepreneur, Tom Anderson is already planning on how to capitalize on the upcoming changes including the pending construction of a new train station nearby. Mary’s strength of character draws her to Tom’s attention as he is on the verge of opening up a new enterprise. Mary undergoes a full transformation from a no-name whore scratching out a living on the back streets to become the legendary Madame Josie Arlington of the newly renovated and very upscale Arlington House. This entertaining historical fiction is based on true events in New Orleans Storyville district during the end of the 19th century and the people who lived and worked in that sleazy part of town at time when social and racial segregation were a fact of life. What could easily have been little more then a tale of degradation becomes rich story of voodoo practitioners, madams, pimps, crooked politicians and an emerging new musical style. Although Mary is billed as a notorious madam, the tale leaves off before providing anything more then hints as to how she came about that title. It is uplifting to see how Mary makes the most of a difficult lot in life, providing for her family and always pushing for something better. A satisfying read about the shady side of old New Orleans complete with an array of period photographs and advertisements. Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.