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Madame Alexandra’s Rules of Business (Review)

Cover of Madame Alexandra's Rules of BusinessOur Book Club review this time is Madame Alexandra’s Rules of Business: The Enduring Principles of Business Success, written by Claude Roessiger.

Claude Roessiger is an international entrepreneur and an authority on the branding of luxury and specialty products.

I’m glad I found this little gem of a book. I first saw it over on NetGalley a few days ago: it had an intriguing title and cover so I decided to buy it and read it. And I liked it very much 🙂

Madame Alexandra’s Rules of Business is a book offering useful business tips interwoven with storytelling, and from an unusual perspective.

It’s told in the voice of the fictitious Madame Alexandra Borodinskaya, a madam and excellent business woman who ran a highly successful maison close (brothel) in nineteenth-century Paris. In her Rules of Business she shares the “business principles that she applied in amassing a fortune of note”

“Do not trouble yourself about competitors and competition. In any justifiable field of endeavour there will be competitors, some good, some not. The truly good ones will always be few and will create business for each other by elevating the standards of the profession. You never have to concern yourself with those who do not attain these standards.”

Claude Roessiger says of writing the book that he has deliberately chosen to “juxtapose and highlight those good and durable [business] principles with a trade some might consider ill-reputed however venerable it might be in order to show by way of contrast that these solid and enduring business principles don’t change”.

There are around 100 pieces of business advice based on Madame Alexandra’s memoirs – a few are just a line long, but many are longer, and many could be applied equally as well to life in general.

Each chapter/area of business includes several of these pieces of business advice, and each of those are followed by the voice of Madame Alexandra describing people, events or scenarios that happened while she ran her business: stories of her rise to great success and wealth and the people she met along the way; stories that exemplify good business practice.

Always allow one sun to set upon a problem but never two.
I have found myself on more than one occasion with a grave problem before me at dusk which was greatly diminished by dawn. But, delay past the morrow is procrastination and serves only to enervate. Do not allow it. Take your decision, tranquil in the knowledge that you have weighed it, and let the flow of your affairs resume.

Chapters in Madame Alexandra’s Rules of Business

  • House Rules of Business
  • On Education
  • The Establishment
  • On Integrity
  • Comportment
  • Manners of Commerce
  • One’s Employees
  • On Giving Direction
  • The Presentation
  • Accountancy
  • Investment of Capital
  • Negotiation: A Few Words
  • The Law
  • A Reflection on Government
  • Charity

The book ends with A Letter Found – Madame Alexandra’s long letter to a girlhood friend, written in 1906 in her retirement as she reflects on her memories of her life and work.

Writing a business advice book in the form of the memoirs of a nineteenth century Parisian Madame is a clever idea, and Claude Roessiger seems to get her voice just right: it’s very convincing.

Madame Alexandra’s Rules of Business is a witty and engaging book and I recommend it.

It’s available on and, and there’s also a new Facebook page for the book which as I type this has just 1 ‘Like’ but it looks like it could be an entertaining page to follow.



P.S. If you have any books you’d like to recommend for reviewing, please let us know.

Angela Boothroyd

I'm a teacher and linguist who specializes in helping non-native English speakers speak English more fluently. I review books and interview authors for the Birds on the Blog Book Club - if you have any suggestions for reviews or interviews please let us know 🙂