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The Beautiful Lady

Booth Tarkington

Book Overview: 

Raffaele Ansolini is down on his luck: living in Paris is not quite so amazing if there are no funds to finance the amusement. So Ansolini has taken radical steps to support himself. Shaving off his hair, he uses his bald head as advertising space for a local theatre. This is not the costume in which to meet the most beautiful woman in Paris. Will he be able to find her again?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .k sweet and fruity champagne because the good wines are already in their veins. These Parisians are born intoxicated and remain so; it is not fair play to require them to be like other human people. Their deepest feeling is for the arts; and, as everyone had declared, they are farceurs in their tragedies, tragic in their comedies. They prepare the last epigram in the tumbril; they drown themselves with enthusiasm about the alliance with Russia. In death they are witty; in war they have poetic spasms; in love they are mad.

The strangest of all this is that it is not only the Parisians who are the insane ones in Paris; the visitors are none of them in behaviour as elsewhere. You have only to go there to become as lunatic as the rest. Many travellers, when they have departed, remember the events they have caused there as a person remembers in the morning what he has said and thought in the moonlight of the night.

In Paris it is moonlight even in the mo. . . Read More

Community Reviews

An enjoyable bittersweet novella.

3.5 rounded up because I love Tarkington's way with a description. This is a short, charming story about feeling overwhelmed by beauty and the quiet joy of being truly seen.

“The Beautiful Lady”, is another of the short novels from Booth Tarkington’s early career. It was originally published in two parts, December of 1904 and January of 1905, in “Harper’s Magazine”, and then as Tarkington’s fifth book in May of 1905. As with many of Tarkington’s other works, it is a bit

Tarkington beautifully captures what it feels like to be overwhelmed by someone's beauty. This is a poignant and moving tale, written with deep skill and understanding.

Yeah, maybe it was too predictable or too sappy, but it was a sweet novella and rather touching, even to a brute like me. :-)