Bohemian Paris in the mid nineteenth century is the setting for James MacManus' historical novel Black Venus (M) which explores Charles Baudelaire's relationship with Haitian singer Jeanne Duval. Duval was born in Haiti, child of a slave and a French plantation owner who fled the island after the revolution. Jeanne Duval clung to her French roots, making it her live long quest to find her father, confident that he was a kindly man who would take interest in her. She used her singing ability as a means to escape Haiti and made her way to Paris where she came to the attention of poet Charles Baudelaire.
Black Venus is a dark story, evocative of the gritty world occupied by artists and poets in nineteenth century Paris. Another is Robin Oliveira's I Always Loved You (M).
Jeanne Duval is also a character is Nalo Hopkinson's The Salt Roads (M).
"When three Caribbean slave women gather one night to bury a stillborn baby, their collected mournings braid into a powerful calling, and a deity is born. So begins the epic journey of a spirit who, in a desperate bid to discover her own nature and identity, defies the limitations of time and place to inhabit the minds of living women throughout history. From Jeanne Duval, the seductive black mistress of 19th-century bohemian poet Charles Baudelaire, to a Nubian prostitute on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 300 A.D., the spirit gathers the power and the wisdom of the ages, only to come full circle on the island of St. Dominque. There, she is reunited with the very women who gave her life, and who still struggle to survive under the tyranny of brutal masters." Discover