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Temptress: From the Original Bad Girls to Women on Top [Paperback]

Jane Billinghurst


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First Sentence
In an image painted by the British artist John Collier in 1887, the red-blonde hair of a naked young woman cascades to her waist as she caresses a serpent that is slowly and deliberately entwining itself around her silken thighs. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful coffee table book 29 Jun 2006
By SweetHappyLife-com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Beautiful coffee table book, but the historical inaccuracies were pretty annoying. For instance: Cleopatra was not a descendant of Alexander the Great, but of one his military generals, Ptolemy, who was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BC.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a Class by Itself 20 Aug 2004
By riccotto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Like its author, Oxford-educated writer and editor Jane Billinghurst, this book is in a class by itself. Of several works that have been written on the subject of famous courtesans, temptresses, and hussies in history ("Seductress" by Prioleau, "The Book of the Courtesans" by Susan Griffin, or the wonderfully titled "Famous Hussies of History" by Albert Payson Terhune), this is clearly the book to own.
Beautifully illustrated (the book won the 2004 Alcuin award for excellence in Canadian book design), it contains a wonderful selection of relevant paintings (works by Rackham, Waterhouse, and John Singer Sargent appear side by side with discoveries by less familiar artists such as John Collier (who painted the wonderful rendition of Lilith on the cover), Papety, Gennari, Dury, and Henry Bone. Add to this a fine selection of still photos of Claudette Colbert (a luscious Cleopatra), Jane Russell, Clara Bow, Rita Hayworth, etc., and the visual appeal of the book is irresistible.
The early chapters offer an excellent concise sampling of sensuality in art, literature, and fable from classical antiquity to the middle ages. The later chapters tread on more familiar territory (film and the music scene), but are always insightful as well. The work skillfully avoids the pitfalls of the Prioleau and Griffin books -- too much feminist jargon in the former, too much purple prose in the latter.
Comparable works -- "Encyclopedia of Mistresses" by Dawn B. Sova, the Trevelyan book ("Hussies"), and "Courtesans" by Katie Hickman -- also have their charms, but the unillustrated Trevelyan book (a great read) appears to be out of print, while Hickman's focuses on the lives of five relatively anonymous "courtesans" rather than the more flamboyant sisters-in-arms that Jane Billinghurst so delightfully captures.
The book would be a bargain for the lavish artwork alone, but the author (who judging from the back flap is a bit of a temptress herself) has really outdone herself in providing an entertaining and perceptive study of the temptress phenomenon. The book is recommended for women's studies courses or human sexuality reference collections, but it is far more than that -- it is a delightful, informative, entertaining volume that is a real pleasure to own. Get a copy it and see!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely pictures, but not much information 25 Jan 2014
By Allie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I expected more details about the temptresses who are the subject of this book. The "profiles", if they can be called that, were sparse. Beautiful photos, however. Maybe the hardcover version would make a pretty coffee table book (I bought the soft cover).
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a Class by Itself 12 Aug 2004
By riccotto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like its author, Oxford-educated writer and editor Jane Billinghurst, this book is in a class by itself. Of several works that have been written on the subject of famous courtesans, temptresses, and hussies in history ("Seductress" by Prioleau, "The Book of the Courtesans" by Susan Griffin, or the wonderfully titled "Famous Hussies of History" by Albert Payson Terhune), this is clearly the book to own.

Beautifully illustrated (the book won the 2004 Alcuin award for excellence in Canadian book design), it contains a wonderful selection of relevant paintings (works by Rackham, Waterhouse, and John Singer Sargent appear side by side with discoveries by less familiar artists such as John Collier (who painted the wonderful rendition of Lilith on the cover), Papety, Gennari, Dury, and Henry Bone. Add to this a fine selection of still photos of Claudette Colbert (a luscious Cleopatra), Jane Russell, Clara Bow, Rita Hayworth, etc., and the visual appeal of the book is irresistible.

The early chapters offer an excellent concise sampling of sensuality in art, literature, and fable from classical antiquity to the middle ages. The later chapters tread on more familiar territory (film and the music scene), but are always insightful as well. The work skillfully avoids the pitfalls of the Prioleau and Griffin books -- too much feminist jargon in the former, too much purple prose in the latter.

Comparable works -- "Encyclopedia of Mistresses" by Dawn B. Sova, the Trevelyan book ("Hussies"), and "Courtesans" by Katie Hickman -- also have their charms, but the unillustrated Trevelyan book (a great read) appears to be out of print, while Hickman's focuses on the lives of five relatively anonymous "courtesans" rather than the more flamboyant sisters-in-arms that Jane Billinghurst so delightfully captures.

The book would be a bargain for the lavish artwork alone, but the author (who judging from the back flap is a bit of a temptress herself) has really outdone herself in providing an entertaining and perceptive study of the temptress phenomenon. The book is recommended for women's studies courses or human sexuality reference collections, but it is far more than that -- it is a delightful, informative, entertaining volume that is a real pleasure to own. Get a copy it and see!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The history of women: they frighten men! 13 April 2010
By Nerissa A. Belcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is well written with many great pictures of the mythology around women over the years in various cultures. The only negative of the book is it is repetitious. I.E. in every case women were seen as a danger to men so were pathologized by their cultures. I would have rather seen this theme not so beat to death with the pages saved having been used to demonstrate how a woman of today might become a temptress using the knowledge that women of the past applied.
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