Josephine's life story was as turbulent as the age, an era of revolution and social upheaval, of the guillotine and of frenzied hedonism. With telling psychological depth and compelling literary grace, Carolly Erickson brings the complex, charming, ever resilient Josephine to life in this memorable portrait, one that carries the reader from the sensual richness of her childhood in the tropics to her final lonely days at Malmaison.
©1998 Carolly Erickson; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks
"An intimate, richly detailed, and candid portrait." (Kirkus Reviews)
retired litigation lawyer; I read history; historical fiction; literary fiction. Narrator ++ important. Story equally so
On the one hand, this book straddles the line between history and historical novel. There is a LOT of " she must have felt" or "she no doubt was feeling". If that does not bother you ( and it did not me) then I recommend it without hesitation just for the story alone - a very interesting biography of a woman constantly adapting to survive, first to the turmoil of France during the revolution, then to being the wife of a compelling ( but difficult) figure in world history. Good narratioon - takes a little bit to get used to ( she seemed a bit flat at the beginning) but that soon gave way to the story itself
This book reads like fiction, the narrator was wonderful, and I found myself completely immersed in the ever changing life of this amazing woman. When Josephine died and the book ended, I almost felt like I lost a friend. However, be warned: this book is very biased. Josephine wasn't a saint and she wasn't always the victim. I will be following this book with a biography of Napoleon to get another view of their marriage. Good book, good narrator... I highly recommend it to anyone.
There are probably both better and more inferior books, than this one, about Josephine, or the revolutionary and napoleonic era in general. But as a introduction to a historic person, which I realized I had no knowledge about when I bought the book, it worked marvelous. Sometimes the author seems to be taking some liberties. She also seems to be be fimly in Josephine's camp at all time. But I didn't find this intruding upon an enjoyable and flowing narrative concerning the woman who appears to have wielded more real social power before her marriage to Napoleon, than she did in it or as empress. It certainly commenced a greater interest in the era for my part.
I have long been fascinated by Josephine Bonaparte and I am eager to read anything about her. Had I not previously read Sandra Gulland's trilogy on Josephine I may have given this book a higher rating. Gulland's books are impossible to put down, and I am afraid it'll be hard for any book on Josephine to match up to those.
However, this book was interesting, better than her novel on Marie Antoinette, and the reader was pleasant to listen to. I would recommend this audio book.
Brilliantly written and beautifully read. A fascinating life spanning one of the most turbulent periods of history. Sometimes you want to deepen your understanding of history and sometimes you just want an exciting bedtime story. This is both!
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