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Josephine: Desire, Ambition, Napoleon Paperback – 5 Jun 2014
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"Kate Williams' entrancing biography of Josephine is a sparkling account of this most fallible and endearing of women." (Daily Mail)
"Williams is the Cole Porter of 18th century history. Her serious and thorough investigation is presented in an accessible and playful way." (The Times)
"A whirlwind tour of French history." (Virginia Rounding Telegraph)
"Scintillating . . . Williams illuminates [Josephine's character] with skill." (Country Life)
About the Author
Kate Williams is an author, social historian and broadcaster. She fell in love with history whilst studying for her BA and DPhil at the University of Oxford and has MAs from Queen Mary and Royal Holloway. She is a Professor of History and appears regularly on television – she recently presented her series on ‘The Stuarts’, is the in-house historian and royal expert for CNN and has appeared on programmes from The Great British Bake Off to election coverage and comedy panel shows. She has written four historical biographies, a series of historical novels and loves nothing more than a spending her time in dusty archives.
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The evidence of real love between Josephine and Napoleon runs throughout this account. Despite her infidelities in the earler part of their marriage,and despite his numerous affairs later, they certainly appear to have developed a true and lasting bond, and this book makes clear the agonies which divorce for dynastic reasons caused them both.'Josephine' was Napoleon's last word before he died on St Helena.
However this book is let down for me by the one dimension depiction of Napoleon himself. No credit is given for any of his accomplishments, and he is portrayed througout as a tyrant only interested in his own glory, Not even his capacity to inspire the love and devotion described in these pages is given any real credit, and the phrase 'Napoleon did not care' is used frequently and speculatively throughout.
Whilst a generaly enjoyable read, this gives, for me, a very distorted picture and readers who wish to know more about why Napoleon was revered as well as hated might wish to read further, particularly Napoleon for a short account or Napoleon: A Political Life for a fuller analysis
Romps through her life and her loves in an informative and well-written way. I am now going to read her book on Lady Hamilton
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