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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2012
I found this a very exciting smooth read and after every session looked forward to coming back for more. Takes is from Josephine aka Roses Tascher's ' childhood on the Caribbean island of Martinique through her troubles marriage to Alexandre De Beuharnais and pre-Revolutionary France, the French Revolution and the horrors of the Reign of Terror in which the protagonist' husband is executed and she herself escapes execution only by Robespierre's death and the Thermidore coup.
Follows on with sharp insight into post Terror France and the time of the directory, with intimate portrayals of French politcians of the time such as Barras, Tallien and Fouche
It is towards the end of the novel where we get to explore the courtship of Rose by the brash young general Napoleon Buonoparte, the protege of the leading figure of the Directory, Deputy Barras.
The book makes one feel excited to see into the private life and thoughts of Josephine, but he way the politics and society of the France of the time (as well as the focus on the slave rebellion on Martinique inspired by the revolution) is analysed and presented in a worm's eye view. What we see in the heroin (She is named Rose for most of the novel but as we know her by Josephime B that is her name in the title because not many of us know her as Rose Tascher) is complex woman, a proud libertine but with a thread of strong compassion for the impoverished masses and horror at the depredations of the terror.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2012
The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. is the first novel in the Josephine B. Trilogy. It covers the period from when Rose (Joséphine became her name after her marriage to Napoleon) was fourteen years old in Martinique, her unhappy marriage to Alexandre de Beauharnais and the terror of the French Revolution, ending with her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte.

I loved seeing Rose transform from a gawky teenager on the island to a survivor of the Revolution and I felt for her as she navigated the French Revolution in all its horror. I read this series ten years ago and was absolutely enthralled by it, numerous times I have returned to the series and even it has not lost its magic. It's probably best enjoyed with a slight background knowledge of the French Revolution, but it's not necessary and didn't impact on my enjoyment first time round (there are notes at the bottom to help and to add a sense of historical perspective which is really useful). I found it refreshing that much of the story is given in hints and reading between the lines, it increased the realism of the diary form for me, however this is personal taste. Sandra Gulland has created the best diary form historical fiction I have read so far.

Highly recommenced along with the Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, and The Last Great Dance on Earth, the next novels in the series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2000
After a hesitant beginning, I found that I was captivated by the story and was reluctant to put it down. I've learnt more about 'revolutionary France' reading this book, than ever before and I was entertained in the process. I was disappointed when I reached the end but thrilled to discover that it is only the first book in a trilogy. I can't wait for the others!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2007
I absolutely loved this book, and egarly searched all of chesters shops to find the other two in stalments which I have now purchased thanks to the wonderful Amazon!!

This book is set out in diary form DO NOT let this put you off, it is like Lady Josephine is telling you the story herself. It is wonderfully insightful into the French Revolution and how she coped with it. The famous "real" characters you feel you are actually getting to know like making a relationship with a famous person you admire. The book is an exceptional hooker!! page after page something happens that makes you read more wondering what will happen to her, which I assure you, you will come to love her. From her struggles of her first marriage to Alexander and their loveless ups and downs, her imprisonment to meeting her Napoleon, who I might add is honestly described, Sandra does not once force her opinions on the you.

Please read it, its such a wonderful book and I can say got me very interested in the French Revolution. It will be time well spent reading this!!! Well done Sandra Gulland!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2000
this was an excellent book - recommended to anyone. the details from her early life up to after the french revolution are clear and concise... you feel like you are actually there. i started and finished this book in one day, and i am eagerly awaiting to read the next two books in the trilogy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2000
At first glance, I feared an autobiography of a historical person would be dull. Far from it, this book is pacy and deeply involving. It is written in diary form,giving an intimate insight into revolutionary France and a personal view of the younger life of Josephine that is not popularly known about. I couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2014
I liked this novel. The diary format kept the story telling sharp and concise and ensured the reader saw the French Revolution through Josephine's eyes alone. She comes across as the same kind of heroine as Scarlett O'Hara, in Gone with the Wind, albeit one whose actual existence is a matter of fact, but like Scarlett her early life of wealth, privilege and indulgence, is soon swept away by events so vast they cannot be comprehended and she must learn to live by her wits. Unlike Scarlett, at the end of the novel, she knows exactly what 'tomorrow' will bring as she marries the future emperor Napoleon. But that, as they say, is another story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2012
I don't think there's anyone who knows and loves Josephine Bonaparte as much as Sandra Gulland. Her level of passion and detailed description are at the highest level, and swept me away while I read this trilogy. Among my very favorite historical novels.
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on 15 April 1999
Sandra Gulland's story reveals the harsh reality of the life of a strong woman in turbulent France. The main character, though born into a colonial life less than rich, finds herself in some of the plushest salons in France, surrounded by wealth and oppulance. But only after she has spent months in a squalid prison, while her homeland is transformed into a new republic. Rose has maternal compassion that runs deep and far, enveloping her own children and the lives of friends and their friends. She warms reader's hearts with her acts of generosity, putting her own life at risk helping others, even after the death of her own husband. Readers will see two Frances. One of excess and one of extreme poverty. Rose, in her wisdom, survives both because of her faith and friends. This is not a fast read, but rather a 450 page story chock full of emotion. You will follow the characters into affairs, and heart ache, death and pain, love and friendship, politics and victory, and fulfillment. In particular, Rose will go on to fulfill a prophesy foretold in Tarot cards in her youth. I recommend this to those with an interest in the French revolution, because I believe the vivid descriptions depict the true atrosities that occured during this time. I recommend this also to readers who like stories featuring strong female characters, and those who take pleasure in sharing exciting lives of extraordinary people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 1999
I was fascinated by Josephine's extraordinary experiences, achievements and her influence on so many others. What an amazing woman, particularly for her time. I also loved learning about the French Revolution and I found the footnotes very helpful in placing the fictionalised diary in its factual context. I could not put this book down and have placed an advanced order for the second book. I may write to Sandra Gulland to see if she could bring forward the 'fall 2000' publication date for the final book in the trilogy!
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