Thursday, June 11, 2020

Book Review: The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt by C.W. Gortner

Book Review


The First Actress

A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt

C.W. Gortner


Book Description:

From her beginnings as the daughter of a courtesan to her extraordinary transformation into the most celebrated actress of her era, Sarah Bernhardt is brought to life by an internationally bestselling author praised for his historical novels featuring famous women.

Sarah’s highly dramatic life starts when she returns to Paris after her convent schooling and is confronted by her mother’s demand to follow in the family trade as a courtesan. To escape this fate, Sarah pursues a career onstage at the esteemed Comédie-Française, until her rebellious acting style leads to her scandalous dismissal. Only nineteen years old and unemployed, Sarah is forced to submit to her mother’s wishes. But her seductive ease as a courtesan comes to an abrupt end when she discovers she is pregnant. Unwilling to give up her child, Sarah defies social condemnation and is cast adrift, penniless and alone. 

With her striking beauty and innovative performances in a bohemian theater, Sarah catapults to unexpected success; suddenly, audiences clamor to see this controversial young actress. But her world is torn asunder by the brutal 1870 siege of Paris. Sarah refuses to abandon the ravaged city, nursing wounded soldiers and risking her life.

Her return to the Comédie and her tempestuous affair with her leading man plunge Sarah into a fierce quest for independence. Undeterred, she risks everything to become France’s most acclaimed actress, enthralling audiences with her shocking portrayals of female and male characters. Sarah’s daring talent and outrageous London engagement pave her path to worldwide celebrity, with sold-out tours in Europe and America. 

Told in her own voice, this is Sarah Bernhardt’s incandescent story—a fascinating, intimate account of a woman whose unrivaled talent and indomitable spirit has enshrined her in history as the Divine Sarah.

Biographical Historical Fiction

Buy Now:

Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/3fhP4Ji


My 5-Star Review:

The First Actress is an interesting novel written from Sarah Bernhardt’s perspective taking the reader on a journey from the famous actress’s childhood through adulthood. Born the daughter of a courtesan and raised in a convent, Bernhardt’s life is quite an interesting one, especially when you consider the time period. Becoming an actress was considered to be a profession lower than that of a prostitute. But the young woman worked hard and persevered, with many roadblocks along the way.

Written to keep you reading, I found this novel intriguing. A wonderful choice for book clubs or lovers of historical fiction.






About the Author:

C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and a degree in fashion marketing. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has experienced life in a Spanish castle and danced in a Tudor great hall. Half-Spanish by birth, his novels have been translated in over 20 languages to date.

He is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of The Romanov Empress, Mademoiselle Chanel, The Queen’s Vow, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Last Queen, The Vatican Princess, and Marlene, among other books. He lives in Northern California.

C.W. enjoys talking to book groups. To schedule a chat or find out more about his work, visit: http://www.cwgortner.com

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The Romance Reviews

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