Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax and cabbages and kings"" is this bright but somehow melancholy autobiography of the international courtesan, Belle Livingstone. From her beginnings in Kansas in 1875 when her editor-father found her -- an infant in a cluster of sunflowers, the red-haired Belle was destined to live a parody of her parents' strict Christian ethic. Stage-struck at sixteen, Belle strikes out, and from that point on, hers is a history of precarious living at a high pitch. Among her four husbands was a millionaire and a titled Italian; among her friends, the Prince of Wales and the aloof Lord Kitchener. Weathering the adversities of the First World War and post war Paris, Belle, for many years an expatriate, returns to New York where for a while she reigns over a posh speakeasy. This career is punctuated with a thirty day jail term. Belle Livingstone writes well, assuming a sophisticated tone which prohibits the inclusion of specific sexual detail. Hers is a portrait of a world of playboys, gangsters, and courtesans, a world glittering with immorality and opulence which was destined to pass with the feather boa and synthetic champagne. It was, alas, a brittle paradise, in which Belle Livingstone amusingly portrays herself as a somewhat tarnished Beatrice. To be read in small doses by those who enjoy experiencing vicariously the material conquests of a selfish but gallant woman.