Cover of book Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman by Elizabeth Abbott

She has been known as the kept woman, the fancy woman and the other woman. She is both a fictional character and flesh-and-blood human being. But who is she, really? What do Madame de Pompadour, Heloise, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Eyre and Camilla Parker-Bowles have in common? Why do women become mistresses, and what is it like to have a private life that is usually also a

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