November 2, 2008

The Secret Life of Josephine - Carolly Erickson

This book was an impulse pick-up from the local library, and it was a waste of the time that it took to read it.
It is, in the author's words "a historical entertainment".  Historical fluff is more like it.  Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy fluff on occasion, but it has to be well-written fluff.  This is the story of Josephine Bonaparte, first wife of Napoleon, told from her point of view.  But the author tries to cover too much time over too short of a book, so you don't get to know the characters, and many events are skimmed over; and time tends to skip around erratically.

If anyone is interested in historical fiction about Josephine, I would highly, highly recommend the trilogy of books by Sandra Gulland - The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe; and The Last Great Dance on Earth.  Those books, the fictionalized diaries of Josephine Bonaparte, draw you into her story and are so well written that while you are reading them, the reality of the story is more real than the reality around you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm with you- partly...

I started off enjoying The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. Well written, felt really realistic.

But I got REALLY tired of trying to feel sorry for this rich person scrambling to keep her status when there were SO many others suffering MUCH more severely. e.g. hard to feel sorry for her social fears around throwing a party w/o great food when others had NO food.

I wanted to strangle her. But the good writing made me feel like it was a real reflection on the turmoil of the upper/middle class and also have a passionate response to the book - right?

I'd totally recommend it with the caveat that tranquilizers be prescribed for the political lefties. KR