Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Five best books on inamoratas and other women

Elizabeth Abbott is a writer and historian with a special interest in women's issues, social justice for all and sugarcane-cutters in particular, the treatment and lives of animals, and the environment. She has a doctorate from McGill University in 19th century history. She is the author of several books, including A History of Marriage, which completes her trilogy about human relationships with A History of Celibacy and A History of Mistresses.

One of Abbott's five best books about inamoratas and other women, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Greek Fire
by Nicholas Gage (2000)

Greek-born American journalist Nicholas Gage gives us a splendid portrait of opera star Maria Callas's life as the mistress of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Their love ignited in the summer of 1959, on Onassis's yacht. Though unlikely lovers—Onassis derided opera as "Italian chefs shouting risotto recipes at each other"—Maria "flooded [him] with her love, surrendered totally." He divorced his first wife, Athina, a year after the affair began but then didn't marry Callas—and did embark, eight years later, on an unhappy marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy. Callas might have been a tempestuous diva, but she remained his closest friend and confidante. "Greek Fire" confirms, as many suspected, that in her heart-rending interpretation of "Tosca," Callas was also singing about her own life: "Vissi d'arte, Vissi d'amore." I lived for art, I lived for love.
Read about the other entries on Abbott's list.

--Marshal Zeringue