The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld

The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld - Christine Wiltz

Author Christine Wiltz worked with both primary and secondary sources to bring Norma Wallace and the world of New Orleans prostitution to life.

 

Norma is portrayed as a colorful, willful, obsessively independent woman. The portrayal is so sympathetic that occasionally I find it unbelievable, but that may be my prejudices showing. Certainly I felt a lot of sympathy for her by the end of the book, even while wanting to shout at her and shake her.


New Orleans is as much a character as Norma in the beginning of the book, and Wiltz does a great job of invoking the romance of the city from the 1920's through WWII. In fact, I found the background information on the history of bad behavior in New Orleans to be just as interesting as Norma herself.

 

What Went Well:

  • Norma as a complex woman of her time
  • Research seems thorough

 

Even Better If:

  • Norma portrayed as slightly less saintly
  • Narrative needs faster pacing