The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld

last_madamThe Last Madam:  A Life in the New Orleans Underworld

By Christine Wiltz

Kindle Price: 4.99

Summary: In 1916, at age fifteen, Norma Wallace arrived in New Orleans. Sexy and shrewd, she quickly went from streetwalker to madam and by 1920 had opened what became a legendary house of prostitution.  There she entertained a steady stream of governors, gangsters, and movie stars until she was arrested at last in 1962. Shortly before she died in 1974, she tape-recorded her memories- the scandalous stories of a powerful woman who had the city’s politicians in her pocket and whose lovers included the twenty-five-year-old boy next door, whom she married when she was sixty-four. Combining those tapes with original research, Christine Wiltz chronicles not just Norma’s rise and fall but also the social history of New Orleans, thick with the vice and corruption that flourished there-and, like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Philistines at the Hedgerow, resurrects a vanished secret world.  This summary is from Amazon.

Review: I picked this up because lets face it who doesn’t like a good true story about a strong woman who made a notorious life for herself.  Unfortunately I had a very hard time finishing the book. While the facts are intriguing and Norma’s life was extremely interesting I had a very hard time following along. You start a chapter about an event in her life that may date back to the 1920’s and by the end of the chapter you could be in the 1940’s, then when you start the next chapter you could end up back in the 1930’s for a totally new event.

That being said, what an incredible woman Norma Wallace was. She was truly loyal to her family. I think Christine Wiltz says it best “Norma held her family’s secrets close, not because she was ashamed but because she had great family loyalty.”  She was a woman who new what she wanted and new how to get it. In the history of New Orleans her operation was the longest on record. Her business since was amazing.

I really wanted this to be a book I could say I loved, but unfortunately I can’t. The jumping around just got to be too much for me.

Rating on a Scale of 1 to 5: 2 (Only because I couldn’t finish it)

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