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Publisher's Summary

When, in 1804, Josephine Bonaparte knelt before her husband Napoleon to receive the imperial diadem, few in the vast crowd of onlookers were aware of the dark secrets hidden behind the imperial facade. To her subjects she appeared to be the most favored woman in France: alluring, wealthy, and with the devoted love of a remarkable husband who was the conqueror of Europe. In actuality Josephine's life was far darker, for her celebrated allure was fading, her wealth was compromised by massive debt, and her marriage was corroded by infidelity and abuse.

Josephine's life story was as turbulent as the age, an era of revolution and social upheaval, of the guillotine and of frenzied hedonism. With telling psychological depth and compelling literary grace, Carolly Erickson brings the complex, charming, ever resilient Josephine to life in this memorable portrait, one that carries the reader from the sensual richness of her childhood in the tropics to her final lonely days at Malmaison.

©1998 Carolly Erickson (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"An intimate, richly detailed, and candid portrait." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about Josephine

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • DPM
  • 07-03-08

Engaging

On the one hand, this book straddles the line between history and historical novel. There is a LOT of " she must have felt" or "she no doubt was feeling". If that does not bother you ( and it did not me) then I recommend it without hesitation just for the story alone - a very interesting biography of a woman constantly adapting to survive, first to the turmoil of France during the revolution, then to being the wife of a compelling ( but difficult) figure in world history. Good narratioon - takes a little bit to get used to ( she seemed a bit flat at the beginning) but that soon gave way to the story itself

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anna Ballard
  • 04-04-11

What an interesting subject!

I have long been fascinated by Josephine Bonaparte and I am eager to read anything about her. Had I not previously read Sandra Gulland's trilogy on Josephine I may have given this book a higher rating. Gulland's books are impossible to put down, and I am afraid it'll be hard for any book on Josephine to match up to those.

However, this book was interesting, better than her novel on Marie Antoinette, and the reader was pleasant to listen to. I would recommend this audio book.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ingelin
  • 29-07-10

Agreeable starting point

There are probably both better and more inferior books, than this one, about Josephine, or the revolutionary and napoleonic era in general. But as a introduction to a historic person, which I realized I had no knowledge about when I bought the book, it worked marvelous. Sometimes the author seems to be taking some liberties. She also seems to be be fimly in Josephine's camp at all time. But I didn't find this intruding upon an enjoyable and flowing narrative concerning the woman who appears to have wielded more real social power before her marriage to Napoleon, than she did in it or as empress. It certainly commenced a greater interest in the era for my part.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Eva Piercefield
  • 25-12-17

Dull

I was disappointed by this book. The reader was dispassionate, her monotone during even the most exciting parts of the story was distracting and ruined the pacing. Also, I feel that the author had strong biased against Napoleon. She was quick to emphasize every wrong that the emperor did to his wife, but overlooked the many things Josephine did to him. For instance, when Napoleon wrote romantic notes to his wife early in their marriage, she would mockingly read them out loud to her guests. Theirs was a troubled marriage, and I found it disappointing that the author chose sides because it gives an incomplete view of the subject. To me this book was maybe appropriate for people newly interested in this time period, but if you already know a lot about the Bonapartes and their times, this book is going to bore you.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Barbara Marks
  • 01-09-08

Biased, but a good read.

This book reads like fiction, the narrator was wonderful, and I found myself completely immersed in the ever changing life of this amazing woman. When Josephine died and the book ended, I almost felt like I lost a friend. However, be warned: this book is very biased. Josephine wasn't a saint and she wasn't always the victim. I will be following this book with a biography of Napoleon to get another view of their marriage. Good book, good narrator... I highly recommend it to anyone.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-04-21

Excellent

Absolutely 💯 Loved it!!! And will listen to it again. Perfect Narrator and saw and felt Every experience. you won't be disappointed!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Phoebe Hartendorp
  • 11-04-21

Enthralling

Couldn’t stop listening. It gave an intriguing look into the life and times of a fascinating woman.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Moonsta
  • 21-03-21

At what point is this about Josephine!

I'm up to chapter 5 and have not yet heard a thing about Josephine or Napolean. Its rather boring.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jae Brown
  • 13-03-21

Author left me feeling sorry for the villain

Began to feel as if this were a poorly styled newspaper opinion piece that inadvertently builds sympathy for the other side. So strident and one-sided, the story left me feeling sorry for the bad guy. Had to leave it. Disingenuous and unsatisfying.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Family Wilson-Haynes
  • 05-03-21

Brilliant historical research.

The author obviously spent a lot of time researching old documents, letters, notes, interviews and puts together a lively novel that never once becomes boring. I wasn't wrapped in the narrator although she was clear and faultless I found the harsh American accent not to my taste). Otherwise, I would have given 5 stars.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • h
  • 08-12-12

Wonderful.

Brilliantly written and beautifully read. A fascinating life spanning one of the most turbulent periods of history. Sometimes you want to deepen your understanding of history and sometimes you just want an exciting bedtime story. This is both!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lynn Cage
  • 05-04-16

Dreary

I found this book very factual. If I had been reading it and not listening I don't think I would have got past the first chapter