PAINTED LADY by Leonard Falkner


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Eliza Jumel -- bawd of Providence, darling of Paris, scandal of New York -- was born in 1775 in a hovel in town's red light district and died in 1865 in her New York mansion, the richest woman in America. Beautiful 18-year-old Eliza Bowen fled Providence withher illegitimate son, determined to rise in the world. In New York her friendships with Aaron Burr, then a brilliant lawyer, and the French artist St. Memins added polish to her charm, while intensive reading gave substance to her natural intelligence. Stephen Jumel, a wealthy French wine merchant, found her irresistible. He took her to Paris, where she ravished the highest society. An admirer of Napoleon, she was once thrown into a dungeon by the restored Bourbon monarch. Between their two keen business minds, Stephen and Eliza became one of the richest couples in the United States. After Stephen died, the middle-aged Eliza married her old friend, Aaron Burr. The honor of being the wife of a former Vice-President soon palled beside Burr's extravagance, and Eliza ended the marriage. In her last years Eliza drilled her own soldiers in her back yard, favored privileged visitors with a wonderful mixture of fact and fantasy concerning her part in the early years of America, and died a formidable old lady. The biography is sympathetic and interesting, and the historical background of post-Revolutionary New York is well authenticated.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1962
Publisher: Dutton