Review: The Rose of Martinique: A Life of Napoleon’s Josephine by Andrea Stuart

Josephine Bonaparte was the Jacqueline Kennedy of her era. She was a fashion icon and patron of the arts, who was also renowned for her charm, beauty, and compassion.

Josephine worked hard to constantly reinvent herself and her public image, even Madonna would be impressed by her efforts. Despite the veneer of glamour this woman had a rough life, but fought through it all dressed to kill and with a smile firmly in place.

Andrea Stuart’s biography provides a fascinating account of Josephine’s chaotic life from her birth on the island of Martinique, to her unhappy first marriage, her imprisonment during the French revolution, and finally her tumultuous relationship with Napoleon.

Stuart does a fantastic job of making history read like fiction. Normally there are places in a biographies that I struggle to read through, but Stuart held my attention through each chapter.

She often uses letters (some of which are quite scandalous) to help paint an intimate picture of the relationships between Josephine and the important people in her life. Despite the subtitle, Stuart’s work clearly conveys that Josephine was not just the woman behind Napoleon, she was a force unto herself.

For a fictional account of Josephine’s eventful life, I also recommend Sandra Gulland’s three part series, the first of which is titled The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

Check it out at your local library fellow bitches!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Rose of Martinique: A Life of Napoleon’s Josephine by Andrea Stuart

  • Paperback, 480 pages
  • Published May 16th 2005 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published 2003)
  • ISBN 0802142028 (ISBN13: 9780802142023)

Recommendation: 5 out of 5 (insightful non-fiction bio on a remarkable woman)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

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