Thursday, February 11, 2010


Sandra Gulland's Trilogy of Josephine Bonaparte is available here @ Amazon. I give each of these books *****.

I'm linking this book review to both Food for Thought and Pink Saturday this week.

Josephine and Napoleon have just been married as the first book in Sandra Gulland's Josephine trilogy ends. The second book, TALES OF PASSION, TALES OF WOE, begins as the couple starts out on a life together, and Josephine begins her journey as, Madame Bonaparte. For the romantics, the story of Josephine and Napoleon is truly an irresistibly heartwarming love story, and thus most fitting for this Valentine's Day weekend.

As in each of these three books, the author tells Josephine's story through fictionalized diary entries. One can easily visualize the lovely Josephine sitting in silence at her escritoire as she pens her thoughts.

Gulland gives us the essence of Josephine's life as the wife of Napoleon in the title of this work. Passage after passage, we learn that Napoleon is most passionate about his love, Josephine. He adores her and is devoted to this woman who intrigues and enchants him. Napoleon, frequently away fighting battles, pens ardent love letters to his bride, his Lady Luck, his destiny.

Josephine, at times overwhelmed with the situation of her life, struggles with both the intense love Napoleon shows for her and the public life she has been thrust into as the wife of the militarily successful General Bonaparte.

Unfortunately Josephine's life is not all hearts and roses. Post Revolutionary France is in a state of political upheaval. Napoleon is off to far away lands fighting wars, while Josephine is left to manage life on limited resources. Suffering from ill health due to the harsh conditions of her prison confinement during the Terror, Josephine also must endure various spa treatments. The trauma of the Terror most likely left Josephine infertile and thus unable to provide Napoleon with the heir he desperately desires and the child she so fervently wants to conceive.

As the pages of Josephine's diary reveal, her marriage to Napoleon is a tumultuous one. She longs to please Napoleon and grows to adore and cherish her new husband. Josephine, a shrewd business woman, is sophisticated and connected to those of influence. The Bonaparte family, on the other hand, is both jealous and vindictive toward Josephine. Not pleased that Napoleon and Josephine married, they plot to destroy both the marriage and Josephine's reputation.

There are few passages related to food aside from the occasional mention of dining . . .

or a mention here and there to coffee or hot chocolate.

There is however a reference to a formal dinner hosted by Citoyen Director and General Barras. Such an extensive menu is not the usual here at Hyacinths for the Soul, so we opted to spotlight the first dish, onion soup.

French onion soup is a favorite of ours, so it was an easy choice.

There's nothing better on a cold, wet evening than the warm rich broth and the sweet onions paired with large crunchy toasted bread topped with gruyere cheese.

As the book comes to a close, Napoleon and Josephine have moved into the Tuileries with great celebration. "The age of Fable is over . . . the Reign of History has begun." Sandra Gulland's portrayal of Josephine during these years is a new look at this controversial period of Josephine's life. I find it touching. Through these works I've come to love, adore, and admire Josephine Bonaparte. I think you will too.

Next time we look at the conclusion of this trilogy, THE LAST GREAT DANCE ON EARTH. But for now, you'll find more edible book reviews at Food for Thought and more pink at Pink Saturday. For more information about Sandra Gulland and her work, click here to visit her personal web site and blog.