Margaret's Reviews > Désirée

Désirée by Annemarie Selinko
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's review
Sep 15, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, napoleon, favorites, authors-qrs
Read in December, 2013

Désirée is one of those old family favorites which I've read many times and keep coming back to like an old friend.

It's the sweeping story of Désirée Clary, the daughter of a Marseilles silk merchant, from her early love for and engagement to Napoleon to her later marriage to French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who later became king of Sweden (and Désirée queen). Désirée herself is one of its chief charms; as the book is in the form of an ongoing journal, everything is filtered through her sparkling, direct, and charming personality.

Historically, I find it largely convincing (though I'd still like to read a good biography of Bernadotte to see if her picture of him is accurate), particularly in the portrayal of Napoleon, who can easily turn into a caricature of himself if handled wrongly; Selinko makes him entirely believable, as an egotistical tyrant, but also as a human being. Although Désirée marries Bernadotte, it's her scenes with Napoleon which are frequently the most arresting and emotional.

If you've read Désirée and are interested in a historical diarist of that time, I'd highly recommend Memoirs Of The Duchess D'Abrantes, Madame Junot V7.
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Reading Progress

12/22/2013 marked as: currently-reading
12/23/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Sherwood (new)

Sherwood Smith Madame Junot's memoirs are great fun, even if she tends to finesse a lot of the truth, like her affair with Metternich.

Bernodotte was a player, and he was also cautious as a marshal. I'd love to know what he and Desiree actually thought of one another. But I adore the book.

Margaret Yes, my impression of Bernadotte is that he was a lot more calculating and ambitious than he's portrayed in the book. But I still love their carriage ride in the rain!

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