Ash Bruxvoort's Reviews > The Last Great Dance on Earth

The Last Great Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland
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's review
Dec 27, 2009

really liked it
Read in November, 2009

Sandra Gulland's The Last Great Dance on Earth is the last book in a series about Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte's beloved wife. I haven't read the first two books in the series, but that didn't prevent me from understanding anything in the novel. It is written as a diary from Josephine's point of view with the inclusion of a variety of letters that were edited by Gulland. The story begins in 1800, before Napoleon is declared Emperor, and ends in 1814 with Josephine's death.

The relationship between Josephine's children, Hortense and Eugene, and Napoleon was interesting. The children call him papa even though he is not truly their father and it is obvious that the four of them are very close. Napoleon declares his love for Josephine in many ways, but she still has to live with his constant affairs and sexual conquests. She wants to be only his but everyone tells her it is her responsibility to turn her nose to the affairs. This was beautifully documented through Napoleon's letters which rotate in signatures. When he is not with another woman he signs them with All thine, N but when he is with another woman he simply writes N. This drives Josephine into obsessions and causes her to do things that are frowned upon, especially by Napoleon. She even walks in on him with a woman at one point. Her attitude proves to be dangerous because there are many people in the court that want Josephine gone, by divorce or death.

The character that interested me most was actually Napoleon's sister, Caroline. She is completely evil and really has it out for Josephine. Caroline is not afraid to use any means, including sexuality, to get what she wants; she is ruthless. Throughout the whole novel I kept thinking I want to read more about her!.

This novel for me was up and down. The time span is quite long which bothered me. Even though the diary entries are dated I still wasn't realizing how much time was passing until I stopped to really look. Josephine's character was well developed, but I wanted to see more of other characters (specifically Caroline). This, obviously, is impossible since the entire novel is from Josephine's point of view so everything we learn about other people is through her. It's not a bad read, but it definitely wasn't a spectacular one.

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