Madam by Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin is biographical novel based on the life of Marie Deubler, aka Josie Arlington, the madam of a notorious brothel in Storyville, New Orleans. The story takes place is the late 1800’s and begins with a young Marie working as a lowly street prostitute earning mere coins. She shares quarters and works shifts with another prostitute in Venus Alley, a run-down alley of shacks and crates where whores lay for the poorest dregs of society. She struggles to survive and keep her brother and his wife supported. When she learns the street where she works will be torn down, and a new red light district will open called Storyville, she works hard to re-establish herself there.
Meticulously researched, the book includes important personages of the times, and emits a strong flavour of turn of the century New Orleans. It deals with the political and social climate of the time including racial conflict between whites, blacks, ad Creoles, political corruption, and the modernization caused by the coming of the railroad. Of course there is a strong sense of New Orleans culture with Jazz and food and vibrant life.
From the harsh life on the lowest rungs of social ladder, to the opulence of the rich and wealthy, this novel is sure to entertain. Colorful characters, vivid descriptions, and a compelling storyline kept me turning the pages at a furious pace. And just because this book is about prostitution, in no way does this book disrespect women. Rather, it makes one sympathetic to their plight. I hope to read more books by these authors!