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The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. (Josephine B, Bk 1)
The Many Lives Secret Sorrows of Josephine B - Josephine B, Bk 1 Author:Sandra Gulland In this first of three books inspired by the life of Josephine Bonaparte, Sandra Gulland has created a novel of immense and magical proportions. We meet Josephine in the exotic and lush Martinico, where an old island woman predicts that one day she will be queen. The journey from the remote village of her birth to the height of European elegance... more » is long, but Josephine's fortune proves to be true. By way of fictionalized diary entries, we traverse her early years as she marries her one true love, bears his children, and is left betrayed, widowed, and penniless. It is Josephine's extraordinary charm, cunning, and will to survive that catapults her to the heart of society, where she meets Napoleon, whose destiny will prove to be irrevocably intertwined with hers.« less
Fascinating glimpse into how Josephine Bonaparte came to be...this first book of the trilogy by Sandra Gulland traces her girlhood days in Martinique (which was my favorite part of the book, full of exotic intrique) to her arranged first marriage in France. At the end of the book, she finally meets Bonaparte. I have started the 2nd book, which so far, is not nearly as enjoyable as this.
I found this book while taking a cruise in 2005. It was in the library swap section, so I started it then and there and took it home with me. I had never read anything on Josephine Bonaparte or Napoleon before, so it was all new to me and I really enjoyed it. I subsequently got the other 2 books in the trilogy as gifts and read them too. This book, and the other 2 books, are very pleasant reading. They are fiction, but Ms. Gulland has done her research of the times thoroughly, so I felt that I had also learned an accurate account of French history from those years.
Since reading these books, however, I have read a purely historical, non-fiction book about Josephine and found that this trilogy of books is extremely sympathetic to Josephine to the point of leaving out some the less honorable parts of her life. So, even though the historical events are correct, I didn't feel her life was presented accurately at all. For example, in the non-fiction book, the introduction states that many people did not like Josephine and that she has not been portrayed kindly among historians. This was a shock to me since in Ms. Gulland's books, Josephine is shown in such a favorable, sympathetic light.
The books are written in diary form, so maybe the author is presenting the skewed facts as how Josephine would want them to appear to the public, conveniently leaving out some of her extramarital affairs for example, or turning them into platonic friendships. That could be the case. Anyway, the book was fun to read and very enjoyable as fiction.