This is the first volume of a marvelously detailed diary kept by Bashkirtseff, an enterprising young woman entering the opulent adult world of Europe during the late 1800s with style and promise, but kicking all the way. Bashkirtseff narrates the splendors of Europe's favorite watering holes (Baden, Nice, Naples) and cultural seasons (Vienna, Geneva, London, and Rome) through the eyes of an adolescent at odds with the constraints of a male-dominated society. By the age of 12, Marie knew that ``she was born to be a remarkable woman.'' Troubled by a burning desire for grandeur and the humiliation brought upon her by her family's negligent financial position in society, she navigates through hostility and longing, leaving over just enough joie to appreciate a beautiful dress, a well-positioned box at the opera, and the carefully choreographed glances of men. As she ventures into the world of masked balls, operettas, and strolls along the promenade, she turns heads all along the way. Her protestations that only ``men are made to live in society'' ring hollow, considering her own sense of omnipotence: ``I am everything. At shooting I am a man . . . in the water a fish . . . at a party a charming woman. . . . In my bedroom I am Venus.'' She knows she wants to be the seeker more than the one who is found in any game of hide-and-seek. Perhaps this is the most profound expression of her frustration at the male-dominated world she describes. Marie was gifted with a precociously modern, novelistic temperament that found no echo at the ball. She confesses with detachment that her ``love story is always the same; it always ends with a paroxysm of tears on a hotel rug.'' In later volumes, she takes up politics and the bohemian life. Here, she plays the arrogant adolescent in a world gone by. Do stay tuned; this feisty young life will take flight.
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