This was a book club choice (no Booker Prize winner for us!!!) and I just loved this translation by David Coward. It reads like a 19th century novel (as it should) and flows - one has a sense that Mr Coward has caught the true essence of the original. I'm also trying to read the original, glad that I've read the translation first - but I have the same sense of impending sadness and love lost even though I'm unfamiliar with some of the (french) language.
The most overwhelming sense that I was left with was that this gives us a true insight into the life of a courtesan in Paris of the 1840s. How hard, and short, life was for some women, very young women, indeed - I believe that when this edition was published Dumas (fils) wanted the public to have a sense of pity for these women who were kept, lavishly in some cases, by various men at the same time.
Apparently, though, the role model for the heroine did indeed have quite a genteel attitude and was beautiful in spite of having been earning her living in the 'flesh' trade from a young age.
Although I'm not into opera many readers will undoubtedly know that this story forms the basis for La Traviata.
A short, easy read in the form of what appears to be a superb translation. The footnotes and preface also make good reading!!!