Welcome to Hyacinths for the Soul

My heartfelt thanks for stopping by for a visit to my blog. HFTS is all about friendship, feathering one's nest, and sharing a creative spirit. Thank you to all of you who take the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one. Your notes are the only way I know who has stopped in for a visit.

You can click on any photo to enlarge.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Sandra Gulland's THE LAST GREAT DANCE ON EARTH is available here on Amazon. I give this book *****.

This is my fourth book review linked to Food for Thought hosted by the incredibly talented Jain of Food with Style and Once in a Blue Moon. Be sure to visit each of these sites. You will not be disappointed!

THE LAST GREAT DANCE ON EARTH is the third and final book in Sandra Gulland's series on Josephine Bonaparte. Thus I write this post with a bit of melancholy, for this one ends with Josephine's death. Through these works, I've truly come to love and admire Josephine as a dear, dear friend. I will miss her.

As with the previous books in this series, the author uses fictional diaries written in Josephine's voice. In the opening pages of this final novel, Josephine and Napoleon have moved into the Tuileries where they celebrate their fourth anniversary. Napoleon continues to rise in power and is declared First Consul for Life.

The saga of Josephine's trials continue. She faces difficult times and much stress because of Napoleon's family. The fact that she has not conceived a child complicates her relationship as the wife of Napoleon. France needs an heir!

Josephine has to come to terms with the knowledge of Napoleon's infidelities. Both Josephine and Bonaparte struggle with the strains upon their marriage: her inability to conceive and Napoleon's wandering eye. The love story continues, and the two remain passionate about one another as their love continues to bind them to their destiny.

With amazing fortitude and ingenuity, Josephine prevails. On December 2, 1804, Napoleon and Josephine are crowned Emperor and Empress of France. It is from this passage that I took my inspiration for connecting with food. I found it touching and intimate that this couple shared a simple meal, just the two of them alone, at the close of such an eventful, historical day. A roast chicken is always a favorite around here, but it was the soufflé that caught my attention. Like Bonaparte, I'd like to eat mine first. You know the saying, "Life's short. Eat dessert first!"

Rather than a simple vanilla soufflé, ours is Grand Marnier.

This delicate dessert soufflé is rather simple made with heavy cream, a bit of butter, sugar, flour, orange zest, 6 eggs, and of course a healthy dose of Grand Marnier. The aroma as it was baking filled our home with the most amazing fragrance.

Please, have a bite and think of Napoleon and Josephine as they celebrated their coronation.

After Napoleon and Josephine divorced, Josephine was given her beloved Malmaison, where she spent the last years of her life. She was an avid gardener and devoted much of her energy to establish the gardens of Malmaison. She cultivated many new plants grown in France, and her rose garden is renown for some 250 varieties of roses. Josephine Bonaparte died in 1814. The Chateau de Malmaison is just a short distance from the heart of Paris, and today is a museum open from April to October. The official apartments are open and include Josephine's clothes, china, glass, and personal things. Read more about this national French treasure here and here.

Now at the end of these three wonderful books, I, too, "have tears in my heart".

For through these works of fiction, Sandra Gulland has given me a beloved friend in Josephine who will always be dear to my heart. I appreciate this new perspective of the fascinating Josephine, and like Sandra, I hope that continued research into the life of Josephine Bonaparte proves to vindicate her. Though each of these novels stand on their own, I recommend that they be read in succession as they seamlessly chronicle the life of Josephine Bonaparte.

I read somewhere that Josephine adored both the sight and scent of violets, and that after her death Napoleon wore a locket of violets from Josephine's garden at Malmaison. I think this is a lovely thought for the love story of Napoleon and Josephine.


  1. this sounds like a romantic book and of course it must be. the souffle looks perfect and ur fotos beautiful.....a great review !

  2. I've never tried a dessert souffle - perhaps I should!
    Years ago I read The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, but I missed the fact that there were two more books. I'll have to look for numbers two and three - I enjoyed your review.

  3. *big sigh* I'm sorry you've finished this trilogy, too, Sarah! I've thoroughly enjoyed your eloquent reviews & I will miss Josephine.
    I also want to rent your husband!!!!(just for his cooking skills, honest) :D
    That souffle is GORGEOUS! I've never tried making one. *repeat sigh*

  4. Beautiful job with the book. I want to read the series now! I remember reading that Josephine had terrible teeth and hated eating in public... but I think the reason for it was she wanted time with Napoleon alone... he was also notorious for eating quickly... I wonder if that was so with her. So many questions... a provocative review and lovely souffle! Thanks for the great work!

  5. I love that you did a trilogy in your food for thought reviews...my reading tends to be a little all over the map! Your grand marnier souffle looks like something I could really sink my teeth into :-)
    I love that you included the violet & pansy botanical book at the end, beautiful binding on that book!

  6. I'm celebrating with a taste of that fabulous looking souffle! What's to celebrate you say? Why dear Sarah, YOU are the winner of my little third anniversary/800 post giveaway!!! Stop over to read my post today.

    Lovely book review - I'm off to re-read as you made it such an interesting story.

    Happy weekend.

  7. ooh I loved your review.. feminine.. poetic.. lovely photos.. What is so impressive too is actually getting a soufflé photo in soufflé mode! Good job~

    I want to look into Malmaison..I know I have a book here somewhere..Napoleons Letters To Josephine..where!?

  8. I don't guess "The Last Great Dance on Earth" is referring to the NCAA March BB tourney, is it?

  9. That soufflé looks delicious...I can almost taste it looking at the pictures. The gardens at Château de Malmaison are probably amazing!


  10. Sarah I love what you said about 'tears in your heart', I can relate as when good books end, one almost feels they have lost good friends. Now I must get busy obtaining these books, as I've always had a tender spot for Josephine, and love that she loved gardening too.

    The soufflé looks so tempting, YUM!

  11. sarah i have LOVED seeing this series with you... and look you even have a crown! you have done a fantastic presentation, just memorable~ on my honeymoon we stayed right across the street from the tuileries. i love the attention to details you share, its just so fun for me to just sink right into these posts and read them as great short stories in and of themselves.

    and then just when i feel so fat and happy, here comes the SOUFFLE! and you eat it first, ain't life GRAND, marnier even! look how perfect yours is too, oo-la-la! i love soufflés, gods food, don't you think? and that sweet crystallized sugar smell with the hint of orange, be still my heart~

    oh i would love to see those gardens... i am sure you are saddened to have finished this trilogy, i know i would be, and you shared it so beautifully with us. this is an art form you excel at, thank you SO much for sharing, i can't wait to see what you read next!

  12. Thank you for your sweet comment on my first-ever Pink Saturday post. My husband is a gourmet cook and I'm the lucky recipient, so I'm loving your blog!Every winter, I buy myself some blue hyacinths and recite this poem. Helps me get through the winter---which is particularly long this year, for Atlanta. We also love sailing. My father had a sailboat growing up and I thought it was so slow and boring. Now, in our old age, my husband and I have enjoyed several charter sails in Key West, as well as a couple in Newport, RI and Victoria, BC.

  13. Hi Sarah...sounds like a great series...bitter sweet story. Your photos are beautiful!

  14. This sounds like a great book makes me want to run to the book store and pick up a copy....
    thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog and most of all for your very sweet comment, i'll be dropping by soon, happy pinky Saturday :P

  15. That book really does look wonderful! I'll have to seek out this trilogy, it sounds right up my alley.

    Have a wonderful Sunday!

  16. Sarah,
    Such an eloquent post with prose and photo's to whet our appetites for more. My sister has bought the books for me and is reading them first, I won't get them until June!
    Thank you for the insight into what must have been a fascinating life and a turbulent relationship.

  17. Good Morning Sarah,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your "book reports"..they have piqued my interest to study more about Napoleon and Josephine. I love a good love story, especially the "historical" ones. I will put Chateau de Malmaison on my list of things to see if AND when I make it to France!

    I have never tried to make a souffle as I've always heard about how tricky they were to bake i.e. FALLING...LOL but yours looks delicious. Maybe I should try my luck at baking one, just for fun!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today. Have a great week.

  18. Good Morning Sarah,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your "book reports"..they have piqued my interest to study more about Napoleon and Josephine. I love a good love story, especially the "historical" ones. I will put Chateau de Malmaison on my list of things to see if AND when I make it to France!

    I have never tried to make a souffle as I've always heard about how tricky they were to bake i.e. FALLING...LOL but yours looks delicious. Maybe I should try my luck at baking one, just for fun!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today. Have a great week.

  19. Sarah, my friend, I want to thank you for pointing us to this wonderful series of books. I just finished reading all three, and you said it perfectly, Josephine is now in my heart too. We must make it to Malmaison to discover more about this fascinating lady!
    I am passing my copies of the trilogy to others who I know will enjoy them, so good things multiply!Thanks again, Laverne

  20. gorgeous souffle. i have always wanted to make one.

    i am checking at my local library for this series of books.

    thank you for addressing them in such a meaningful manner.


  21. Thank you for your lovely visit and comments and so glad you dropped in. This book sounds wonderful and will look for it this week as I love historical fiction. All the best and will drop in again.

  22. Sarah - I always enjoy reading your blog. This book looks so intesting and enjoyable. The souffle looks divine.

  23. Oh, Sarah... this is so lovely! I not only enjoy your reviews immensely, but I also love the things you fix. That souffle is one of them! :-)



  24. Hi Sarah!

    I don' know about the book but, your vision journey that you have presented here is absolutely stunning! Every last picture is a jewel. thank you for such a lovely post!

    have a wonderful evening!

  25. Oh that looks good! And you describe the book wonderfully too!

  26. G'morn Sarah ~ What a wonderful write of these books & the wonderful history of Napolean & Josephine. I love these kinds of love & stories. TY for sharing such a beautiful presentation ...

    That souffle ... yummy!

    Have a wonderful week.
    TTFN, Hugs ~ Marydon

  27. I had never heard of the series of books...It sounds like something I would really enjoy reading.

    The souffle looks amazing!
    p.s. off to read your past rooster posts!

  28. Hi Sarah! I have enjoyed your posts on this series! Your photos are beautiful, as usual and your souffle looks so yummy! You know I love Malmaison and so will you! I scrolled down to get caught up...love your French toast post...so frenchy! Those napkin rings are gorgeous!! When will my room be ready? lol Happy week!...hugs...Debbie

  29. Thanks for the lovely review of this book ... and the tantalizing souffle. Happy belated Pink Saturday.
    Hugs and blessings,

  30. Hi sweet, sweet Sarah. I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your very sweet comment. 52 days is just a blink of an eye, isn't it? It's time to celebrate :-)Thank you. Have a wonderful 1st day of March.

    Much love to you,

  31. Sarah, what a gorgeous post. Food for the mind and the body. Simply lovely!!! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Hugs, Barb ♥

  32. Sarah - you make me want to run out and buy the trilogy! (and make the souffle - hehehe)
    Currently I'm trying to get through some Jane Austin novels . . . hmmmmmm.
    Thanks for visiting me today. In answer to your questions - some of the silver I polish and some of it I let it go and just enjoy the rustic patina of age.
    And some - I PAINT! Gasp. ;)
    HAGD! Karen

  33. Ahhhh, what an exquisite post from the book, the history and the souffle.Thank you for sharing this beauty!

  34. Hi Sarah
    I checked with our library and they have those books so I plan to pick up the first one next time I am there. That souffle looks so good. I've never tried a souffle. Is it hard to make?
    Hugs, Rhondi

  35. I told my husband, just one more blog and I will come to bed...and you were it. Girl, I cannot tell you how I wish I could have a bite of that souffle. I had these on our cruise to Baja and I adore them! Now, I will be dreaming about this....oh, is that good or bad???

  36. it sounds {& looks} like a beautiful book!!! id like to spend a few moments to share her heartache & indulge in her story...
    special wishes

  37. Hi Sarah,

    What a beautiful post. I will pick up these books ASAP.

    That souffle- divine. I've tried to make one several times but they didn't turn out right. They tasted good but looked kind of scary.

    big hugs,

  38. What a lovely book review. I would definitely enjoy this book. It sounds fascinating. And your souffle. Oh my. It looks amazing!

  39. What a lovely book review. You've certainly made me want to read them. You also made me want to sit down and have some of your gorgeous souffle. laurie


Thank you to each of you who take the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one and will respond to any questions. Your notes are the only way I know who has stopped in for a visit.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin