Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise

By: Carolly Erickson

Rating <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: Fashion icon, leader of France’s society in the turbulent years of the guillotine and the bloody Napoleonic Wars, the alluring Josephine was a tough survivor—yet she also had a gentle, haunting quality that made her irresistible to her contemporaries, especially to the mysterious, compelling stranger from Martinique who captured her heart.

Review: The Secret Life of Josephine, follows the life of Napoleon's first wife, from around the age of fifteen to the time of her death.  The main focus of the book being her love affairs, difficult marriages, both with Napoleon and her first husband, and her struggle to mantain her sense of independence and willfullness in a world that was still very much male dominated.

Josephine, was a woman ahead of her time, having many lovers, fighting to maintain her way of life, even facing execution during the French Revolution, then rising  to the pinnacle of her power as she was empress of France during her long and difficult marriage to Napoleon.  Ms. Erickson  speaks out through Josephine's voice about the struggles of the time such as the slave rebellions, mass executions in France, and the eventual return to the French monarchy.  Josephine is not portrayed as a perfect person but as a human who did the best she could. This helps the reader develop a bond with her while reading the book -- she seems more reachable than other characters I've read about.

Overall the book was very enjoyable --the reason I gave it only four smiley faces was because it ended rather abruptly and I would've enjoyed a more thorough ending to the story.


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