Tuesday, June 17, 2008
In a Nutshell:
It is said that truth reads better than fiction-and that holds true with this book. The story of the most famous brothel in the world called the Everleigh Club, where many modern sexual sayings, phrases and stories were given birth, is factually told in this book. The writing is done in a very biographical, somewhat dry approach. What gives the story sticking power are the stories themselves and the real cast of characters that lived in the red light district of Chicago around this very famous, elite whore house. The Everleigh sisters took prostitution to a whole new level, where they used marketing and HR to keep their girls happy and keep customers coming back for more. Historically, Abbott goes into the rivalry between the Everleigh sisters and some other Madams in the area. She also goes into the antics that religious leaders tried in order to get them shut down. She also goes into various famous prostitutes and their interesting stories with their customers, as well as the infamous murder of Marshall Field Jr. at the brothel in 1905. There are pictures throughout the book from historical records that add further depth to the stories around the Everleigh Club.
A history of sex!? Sign me up! I found this book interesting from an historic perspective. The read was sometimes the read is a little dry, and sometimes pretty funny. It is amazing that the antics and illegal activities that happened around this famous brothel were allowed to go on. Underpinned by the goings on at the brothel is a sweeping history of all that was going on socially, economically, religiously and politically in the city of Chicago at that time. Karen Abbott does a great job with her research. But I will admit, even with her anecdotes woven throughout, I think it would have been a funner read if a fictional story was written based on this amazing brothel. There is enough real "story" there, rich with personalities to have been historically accurate yet quite a textural yarn. I think it would have been an even more interesting, riveting read if the real characters came to life in a more fictional approach. That's my opinion, for what it's worth!