This is the incredible rise and unbelievable fall of a woman whose energy and ambition is often overshadowed by Napoleon’s military might. In this triumphant biography, Kate Williams tells Josephine’s searing story, of sexual obsession, politics and surviving as a woman in a man’s world.
Abandoned in Paris by her aristocratic husband, Josephine's future did not look promising. But while her friends and contemporaries were sent to the guillotine during the Terror that followed the Revolution, she survived prison and emerged as the doyenne of a wildly debauched party scene, surprising everybody when she encouraged the advances of a short, marginalised Corsican soldier, six years her junior.
Josephine, the fabulous hostess and skilled diplomat, was the perfect consort to the ambitious but obnoxious Napoleon. With her by his side, he became the greatest man in Europe, the Supreme Emperor; and she amassed a jewellery box with more diamonds than Marie Antoinette’s. But as his fame grew, Napoleon became increasingly obsessed with his need for an heir and irritated with Josephine’s extravagant spending. The woman who had enchanted France became desperate and jealous. Until, a divorcee aged forty-seven, she was forced to watch from the sidelines as Napoleon and his young bride produced a child.
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What A MARVELLOUS history of Josephine!
What a complex woman. There is no easy way to sum her up, a real mixture of siren and sycophant, manipulator and manipulatED! I ended up feeling sad for her mostly as she is certainly one of the most misunderstood women of history. I knew, from a previous book, of her imprisonment and I have always firmly believed that this period of her life for ever changed her as a woman and is responsible for many of the slightly dodgy things she did afterwards! She never wanted to feel impotent again - unfortunately, Bonaparte was probably the worst partner for her to have in this regard.
I just loved the whole book. No specific point. Just very well written, engaging and informative without being pop.history if that makes sense.
Sandra Duncan was a revelation - what a lovely narrator. Intelligently narrated and nice nuances to her voice. It was a captivating listen, both from a book perspective and also from the narration perspective.
Not tonight (I guess!)
Definitely recommend this marvellous book.