Sherwood Smith's Reviews > The Rose of Martinique: A Life of Napoleon's Josephine

The Rose of Martinique by Andrea Stuart
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's review
Mar 05, 2012

bookshelves: biography, history-napoleonic

Things I loved: that Andrea Stuart concentrated on presenting Josephine the leader of fashion, without hagiography or excoriation. I loved that she gave the reader an excellent background of colonial life, and the explosion of change happening there. I loved the quotations from letters. I loved the descriptions of Paris.

Pretty much the only thing that set me aback was her perpetuating the myth about Talleyrand's deformed foot being caused by a fall--that myth has been disproved for years. Decades. In fact, pretty much everything about Talleyrand seemed off, as if Stuart could not see the big European picture.

I think also there was a tad too much reliance on Bourrienne's memoirs, when other sources have pretty much made it clear that he invented an awful lot, even if he was the man on the scene more than most. That doesn't mean he told the truth, especially in reporting conversations.

That said, it was eminently readable, full of vivid images, and a sympathetic yet balance view of its subject.

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