Throwback Thursday: Dangerous Beauty (1998)

For most of humanity, women have been limited to the roles of being wives and mothers. Their education, if they received any, was minimal, and their ability to have the same experiences as their male counterparts was virtually non-existent. There was only one exception to this rule, which can only be classified as the oldest profession in the world.

In the 1998 film, Dangerous Beauty, Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) is a young woman in 16th century Venice. Though she comes from an aristocratic family, she has no money. When her lover, Marco Venier (Rufus Sewell) is forced to marry another, Veronica has two choices: join the Church or become a courtesan. Her decision is to become a courtesan. Unlike other women in her culture, Veronica has freedoms and opportunities that wives do not have.

Problems erupt when the Inquisition comes calling. She has become too popular and respected among the male elite and of course, because of that, Veronica has a target on her back. Her only way to survive is to rely on Marco, but that does not mean that he will automatically stand by her.

I really liked this movie. It speaks to the double standard that women still have to deal with. It also points out the hypocrisy of male leaders, who both use us for their sexual needs, but are quick to condemn us when push comes to shove.

Do I recommend it? Yes.


Royal Beauty Book Review

The Jewish holiday of Purim is the story of Queen Esther. Using her intelligence in a situation that might have brought most women to their knees in fear, Esther is able to rescue herself and her people from the hatred of her husband’s main confidant.

Published this year, Angela Hunt’s new novel, Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel), explores Esther’s story beyond the basic facts that the Bible tells us.

Hadassah is a Jewish orphan, raised by her cousins Mordechai and Miriam. At the age of 13, she lives a relatively care free life, but she knows that will soon change. Following tradition, she knows that she will soon marry Binyamin, the young man chosen for her by her guardians. Then Queen Vashti decides to go against King Xerxes (Ahasuerus in the Bible). For her insubordination, she is punished by being removed from the throne. Searching for a new Queen, Hadassah (renamed Esther to protect herself) is among the young women brought before the king. She is soon crowned Queen. But a man comes to power who threatens the lives of the Jews and Esther must save herself and her people from destruction.

The story alternatives between two narratives: Hadassah and Harbonah, a eunuch whose sole responsibility is the king’s personal welfare. Mingling the history of the period and the Biblical narrative, Ms. Hunt has written an engaging novel that will early on grip the reader and not let go until the final page.

I highly recommend this book.


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