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The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. (Josephine Bonaparte #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  13,755 Ratings  ·  808 Reviews
In this first of three books inspired by the life of Josephine Bonaparte, Sandra Gulland has created a novel of immense and magical proportions. We meet Josephine in the exotic and lush Martinico, where an old island woman predicts that one day she will be queen. The journey from the remote village of her birth to the height of European elegance is long, but Josephine's fo ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 17th 2002 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (first published 1995)
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Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, lod, i-said

History is Fiction. - Robespierre

This entire book was written in epistolary format, which does not always work for me. In fact I think I may have read this a great deal sooner had my daughter not told me that the story unfolded as diary entries. That would have been my loss as the writing here is sublime. Every sentence just flows into the next and I feel as though I am a fly on the wall looking over Josephine’s shoulder as she writes.

To be accurate though I cannot yet call her Josephine. I m
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, just a smidgen under a 5 perfection. The form of diary and letters with footnotes was superb. It worked for me far more than other fiction narrative forms. Rose's writing is indicative of her character, her core, so intensely that it gave a window in itself.

But the eyes were the substance here. This is history and circumstance as it was seen, not as it was later or further interpreted. And I don't need a middle man to interpret history for me. First source material is the thing!! The
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was a beautifully crafted book. Written in the voice of Josephine after nearly a decade of research by the author, it is intensely captivating and is one of my all time favorite books- along with the two that follow it in the trilogy. If you're a sucker for historical fiction it is an absolute MUST read.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This purports to be the diary of Josephine Bonaparte from the time she was a fourteen-year-old plantation owner's daughter in Martinique in 1777 to her marriage to Napoleon in 1796. That's its weakness and it's strength. The weakness, I think, being that diary format. There are novels told in diary form that I've found moving and riveting: Bridget Jones's Diary, Flowers for Algernon, and even, believe it or not, a Buffy novel, Go Ask Malice. I think what all of them have in common are very stron ...more
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gulland certainly goes under the petticoats of this pivotal period in history, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, to provide a day by day commentary of events as they unfolded, narrated by the enigmatic but charismatic Rose, aka Josephine, as named by her second husband.

Born in Martinique off Creole heritage and married off to French aristocrat Alexandre de Beauharnais as a replacement to his original choice of her younger sister Catherine (who died suddenly and conveniently), Rose ch
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-by-me
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It's a little embarrassing to review a book I wrote, but I will say this:

First: Readers have been over-the-moon about Joséphine.

Second: This e-book edition is the first of my e-book publishing enterprise, Sandra Gulland INK, and I'm very proud of it. I read e-books a lot, and I often find myself grumbling at the poor design and layout. For example, shouldn't a book always open at the cover? In the absence of a jacket cover, we need the information that we would normally find there:
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this a very exciting smooth read and after every session looked forward to coming back for more. Takes is from Josephine aka Roses Tascher's ' childhood on the Caribbean island of Martinique through her troubles marriage to Alexandre De Beuharnais and pre-Revolutionary France, the French Revolution and the horrors of the Reign of Terror in which the protagonist' husband is executed and she herself escapes execution only by Robespierre's death and the Thermidore coup.
Follows on with sharp
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had a lot of issues with this story. While I found the beginning engaging, the story didn't make much sense starting about a third of the way through. Her husband tells her she needs to work on her writing skills, yet the novel is in diary form so the reader can see for herself whether her writing needs improvement. And, of course, it doesn't. Her writing also doesn't change at all as she gets older and more experienced. Same verse, same insight. Since the author chose to use a diary format, s ...more
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, the first of Sandra Gulland's trilogy concerning Josephine Bonaparte. I have completed ALL three books of the trilogy. I think it is very important to read them as one book. For that reason I will write one review and let it stand for all three books. I think it is wrong to evaluate them differently. All three were marvelous. Why? Well because youu got under the skin of Josephine, who in fact was called Rose until Napolean decided to change her nam
Carole P. Roman
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love when I read this book. Josephine, yes, Napoleon's Josephine became my bff. Written in diary form, this book is an intimate portrait of a woman, who happened to live and be a part of interesting times. When I started the book, I didn't know the players, and have since researched them all. Guilland writes of a real flesh and blood woman, used, abused, honored and ultimately tossed aside. I cried knowing the outcome, but Guilland writes to the heart. A wonderful read, I zoomed throug ...more
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I'm the author of the JOSEPHINE B. TRILOGY, the internationally best-selling novels based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon's wife. The Trilogy has been published in 17 countries.

I most recently published THE SHADOW QUEEN, the "sister" novel of MISTRESS OF THE SUN. Both novels are set in the Court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. In the spring of 2018, THE GAME OF HOPE, a Young Adult novel
More about Sandra Gulland...

Other Books in the Series

Josephine Bonaparte (3 books)
  • Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe (Josephine Bonaparte, #2)
  • The Last Great Dance on Earth (Josephine Bonaparte, #3)
“I play out the cards. They say: This is Heaven, this is Hell. It is one.” 8 likes
“He calls me Josephine. He says I'm an angel, a saint, his good lucky star. I know I'm no angel, but in truth I have begun to like this Josephine he sees. She is intelligent; she amuses; she is pleasing. She is grace and charm and heart. Unlike Rose; scared, haunted and needy. Unlike Rose with her sad life.” 8 likes
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