Madam: A Novel of New Orleans (Penguin/Plume)
Praise for Madam
“If you are enthralled with New Orleans and the history of its fabled red light district, this is the book for you. The evocative characters lovingly created by Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin made me wish Storyville was resurrected and rollicking with harlots and madams today.”
— Patti LuPone , actress, singer, author
“With brilliant immediate language and fascinating detail, Madam jelly-rolls us through a gritty 1897 New Orleans underworld, and allows us to cheer as a sweet young prostitute fights all odds to become one of its great madams.”— Jennie Fields , author of The Age of Desire
“Madam delivers a world rich with details and visuals of a time and place long forgotten in our history. If you liked Memoirs of a Geisha , you will love following Mary on her harrowing journey to become an infamous Madam in New Orleans red-light district.”— Melissa Joan Hart , actress and author of Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life
"Madam is a fascinating account of New Orleans’ unsavory history and is recommended for lovers of New Orleans and general historical fiction readers." —Historical Novel Society
“Lynn and Martin tell the story of their protagonist’s rise to fame and fortune without piousness, sentimentality, or apology. Thorough research, convincing detail and true to life characters, makes this a spellbinder of a novel. The reader can almost smell the sweat of the johns and the fragrance of rose attar and shrimp gumbo. The characters’ words roll off their tongues like molasses in August.”
—Roberta Rich, author of The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife
“I encourage you to accept this invitation to escape into the boudoirs and back alleys of 19th century New Orleans and leave behind our modern world for a spell. Kellie and Cari have vividly resurrected a world that most of us have never seen up close, and it’s quite a ride!”
— Danica McKellar , actress and New York Times bestselling author
“Madam is an utterly enjoyable and fascinating read! It’s a story of a true underdog, Mary Deubler, who overcomes adversity while making history in New Orleans during the turn of the century. I found myself rooting for our protagonist from the very first page. Kudos to Mary and to Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin!”— Ricki Lake, actress, host, producer
“Love the history they wouldn’t teach you in school? Then open up Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin’s MADAM. It’s a gritty, well-researched story of how Storyville, the largest legal red light district in the United States came into being.”—Lois Battle, bestselling author of Storyville and War Brides
“An odyssey through the underworld and the spirit world of New Orleans, Madam is layered in rags and silks and voodoo visitations. This is a story of desperation turned inside out. Power holds court in back rooms and bedrooms but reaches its full potential in the heart and mind of a young prostitute whose prize possession is a pair of striped stockings she plucked from a rich woman’s trash. This book manages to wrap transformation in sensuality and historical detail, and set the whole thing to the sound of ragtime. Bien joué!”
—Rita Leganski, author of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
“As rich and evocative as New Orleans jazz, Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin evoke a time and place with tantalizing detail, transporting the reader to a world hidden not only by the past, but by the very society that created it. Madam is a wonderful portrait of an indelible figure.”
— DeLauné Michel, author of The Safety of Secrets
“Madam is a fascinating recreation of New Orleans at the end of the 19th century, when the churchgoing politicians and power-brokers of sin created Storyville. An absorbing peek into the hidden history of the city and her most famous madam.”
—Loraine Despres, bestselling author of The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc
Thirty city blocks of legalized prostitution, bordello after bordello. An amusement park of debauchery. It was unprecedented. It was Storyville, New Orleans.
We follow the rise of young, scrappy Mary Deubler, an alley whore who uses her looks and gumption to morph herself into Madam Josie Arlington, one of the most successful, influential, and feared women of the time.
Set in 1900, Madam is based on the true story of New Orleans's 20-year experiment with legalized prostitution that turned castaway, dirt-poor women and free women of color into celebrity madams with unprecedented power and wealth.
But Storyville was about more than just sex. These whores-turned-madams flipped Southern aristocracy on its head: singlehandedly, they created the diverse cultural and music mecca that we know today as The Big Easy.
Behind the doors of Storyville's lavish bordellos, a teenaged Jelly Roll Morton got his first shot at playing the piano (his new sound would come to be known as jazz), while a little worker boy named Louie Armstrong peeked out from the kitchen. Major legal and political deals were sealed in between carnival-esque debauchery. Voodoo queens doled out potions and spells to change fates (and keep venereal disease at bay). And every who's-who of Hollywood, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Europe came to frolic in Storyville.