The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. Since Completing High School History, Few Of Us Have Managed To Keep Straight The Details Of The French Revolution Beyond Suggestions Of Eating Cake And The Effectiveness Of The Guillotine, This Sordid Time Period Has Remained For Many Somewhat Obscure Now, Through The Novel The Many Lives And Secret Sorrows Of Josephine B Not Only Do We Learn Of The Many Differences Between Robespierre And Rousseau, But We Gain Insight Into The Marriage Of One Of History S Greatest Political Couples Napoleon And Josephine Standing Beside The Charismatic Napoleon, Josephine S Own Importance And Fascinating History Have Often Been Overshadowed In A Fictionalized Account Of Josephine S Diaries And Her Correspondence, Author Sandra Gulland Has Shed Light On Josephine S Pre Napoleon Life This, The First Of Three Books About Josephine, Covers Her Childhood In Martinique, Her First Marriage, The Birth Of Her Children, Her Life During The Revolution, And Her Marriage To Napoleon A Poor Creole Outsider As Well As A Rising Socialite, Josephine Experienced Both The Horrors Of Imprisonment And The Privilege Of Connections Utilizing These Different Perspectives, Gulland Takes Special Care To Bring Forth The Reality Of Life In Late Th Century France Though She Can Only Theorize On Josephine S Emotions And Desires, Gulland S Talented Writing And The Restrained Use Of Footnotes Keep The Reader Properly Informed On Pertinent Details, Whether They Be Obscure Political Events Or Voodoo Beliefs While Professional Historians May Bristle At The Artistic License Gulland Employs, Most Readers Will Find Her Novel A Satisfying And Engaging Introduction To This Dramatic PeriodNancy RE O Brien I also write a blog, and can be found on the Net in a number of locals Website

[BOOKS] ✯ The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. ✹ Sandra Gulland –
  • Paperback
  • 429 pages
  • The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.
  • Sandra Gulland
  • 11 September 2019
  • 9781615547364

10 thoughts on “The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

  1. says:

    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 met her first at the tender age of fourteen, in 1777, as Rose, on the island of Martinique The story opens with Rose being told an extraordinary fortune by a voodoo priestess who lived in the shack up the river The old woman began to moan, rolling her head from side to side, the whites of her eyes cloudy Then she looked at me and screamed a sound I will never forget, not unlike a pig being stuck What is it I demanded I was not without fear Mimi Why is she crying The old woman was shaking her head and mumbling Finally she spoke, slowly, but strangely You will be unhappily married You will be widowed I put my hand to my throat The old woman began to shake She shook her hands, crying out words I could not understand Mimi, what is she saying The old woman began to dance, singing with the voice of a man I backed away, stumbling over a gnarled tree root I fell in the dirt and scrambled to my feet You will be Queen , she said.Despite the fact that this is a work of fiction let there be no doubt that it has been meticulously researched I can say this without hesitation as I was swayed on than one occasion to conduct a little on line research of my own, so fascinated was I by the historic events through which Rose was living These were the days of The Terror occurring shortly after the onset of the French revolution, a period of violence during which the guillotine became the symbol of the revolution and claimed the lives of 16,594 people, a number which includes King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette In truth, Rose herself, nearly fell victim to the guillotine She was spared after all she has yet to meet Napoleon but another historic figure took her place below that blade I shiver as I enter The Place de la Concorde The public square in Paris where the guillotine had been erected Wow I need to read historical fiction of this calibre.

  2. says:

    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 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 absolute heart, the intrinsic value And what a life The onus for girl children Especially on Martinique, that Creole based culture of religious, strict heritage, completely aligned directives The choices nil on a personal or individual level across the boards This was true even within the continental South of USA Louisiana territory where girls were also commanded to return to France for their unseen bridegrooms No other marriages permitted And the younger the better too, in most cases Plus the slavery surrounds and rebellion slaughtering and circumstances for lethal disease, both bacterial and childbirth related What are the odds of her fortune coming true to a fruition Infinitesimal But in this dense read, which took me twice the time of a norm much closer to the study of a non fiction than a fiction work Well, that first 15 year beginning was actually the easy part, IMHO.Because with the voyages, the deaths surrounding her, the nature of Alexandre, her husband Coupled with the legacy of her father s proclivities Can there be any survival instinct of self worth that would not have just fallen away to the same patterns It would have been so facile But instead she holds her Mother s core and like her Mother, will often have to experience separation and heartache and DISTINCT when will it end DISTANCE from her most loved children merely to keep them all alive.The parts and associations just before the Terror, and within the prison during the period just before Robespierre took his turn were 5 plus star Can you only imagine the goods economics of trying to stay alive, let alone the vermin, the trauma of hearing and listening for your name on those lists every morning And after a year or two of duplicity moving suspicion and seeing your own husband become fanatic and inspired as well Knowing your household help and close friend may even turn you in for a joke Much like the Cultural Revolution in China or in correct thinking regimes in Russia But actually far worse, because it was NOT just exile, Siberia, starving in the country for a slower death but a tumbrel ride among crying teenage Royalists all going to the guillotine together in groups every single day Not just adults either or the middle aged but all ages 70 today, 200 tomorrow, 40 the next day and on and on and on for two years or And knowing your help goes to see this every afternoon when she tells you that she is looking for trade in any goods for consumption and comes home in high color and with a vigorous attitude This book puts you there With that kind of fear and feelings for liberty fully dressed in hate.The legal aspects in this was also 5 star French bureaucracy never taking a week off during this entire decade because someone was always the law and had written dictate Can you imagine what the marriage state itself by legal definition actually provided for her Or her children Nearly nothing at all but the name itself She is not even recognized in eventual time within his written will for being a legal entity for goods inheritance within his lifetime s proceeds Plus she is trying to support at least 3 of his illegitimate daughters other than her own two children, and one illegitimate half sister too, from one of her father s escapades in age And to think that you can legislate through pure terror and bloodshed the abolition of faith belief, cultural practice, family loyalty, skills and grasp of knowledge tied within the class structure like reading, or raising cows purely for cheese, or being able to translate or command water craft or horses to me, the absolute futility and ignorance of that entire restructuring is ridiculous Doomed to all failures by the very process of life long mistrust, if nothing else Let alone the constant and incessant instability.Waste and poverty as the new badges of pride and common sense buried in the pile of the heads.Rose sees all of this And feels all of this And loses so much The least of it was the material.The only reason I did not give it a 5 was for a wee bit of detail that I felt Rose curtailed Like with the state of her teeth, and hair, and within the observations for those she loved in like manner She tended to overlook the nasty reality of the physical as she disdained to look in her own mirror for long periods of time If she even had one that is But that never realizing is what probably helped her survive to live another day and not lose her cognition of who she was Not just what she now looks like she is It probably was one of the metals in her soul that got her through Because she was forged And Napoleon recognized the quality within that meld Both sought future advantage there was no place to go but up But treading ground that was ever and continuing earthquake All their future days And also with so many of the few surviving under characters I will continue this after March, 1796 portion, when I can.This is a Rose who has become a Josephine her first 32 years Only 32 years and what she had seen and experienced The voyages between Martinique and France ALONE.The charts at the end The lists of dates The ever present footnotes They were top notch magnificent Would that all fiction writers would herald to such a standard.

  3. says:

    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.

  4. says:

    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 strong voices and the way the entries show a change in the character Without a strong personality, diary format can come across as sketchy, with a jerky, stop and go quality, and I m afraid I found the voice created for Josephine very bland and the voice doesn t vary from inexperienced creole girl to a mature sophisticated woman deeply involved and influential in the the politics of Revolutionary France I don t feel the story gained from being in diary form or even first person.The strength That this is the story of Josephine Bonaparte, and if the story it tells comes anywhere near the historical truth, she s a far interesting character than I could have guessed A generous, compassionate woman who took risks to save others against the backdrop of the Reign of Terror where she almost lost her own head to the guillotine The content of her life and the history she lived kept me riveted, in spite of spare, restrained, dare I say dull, writing The picture of Revolutionary France, that turned into a totalitarian state in the name of liberty was fascinating However, I often found the footnotes in the book of real history revealing, making Josephine sound complex and interesting than the voice created for her telling her own story As for Napoleon, he only enters the story in the last 50 pages or so, and comes across as a rather cold fish, while history and his surviving letters to her marks his love for Josephine as one of the great passionate affairs in history not something that comes across in the book I admit in the end I m much likely as the result of this novel to pick up a biography of her, than the next volume in the trilogy.

  5. says:

    The Many Lives Secret Sorrows of Josephine B is never tiring, always compelling, a definite page turner Truly recommend it Full review you can find on my blog

  6. says:

    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 charms and ascends the ranks of Parisian society during the period of unrest following the French Revolution Her first marriage is one of convenience as Alexandre continues to pursue his career, take mistresses and sire illegitimate children, despite having a son and daughter by Rose The Reign of Terror descends and Alexandre is imprisoned and later guillotined for his failure to win a key battle Rose follows him into prison but escapes on a reprieve when Robespierre himself the patriarch of the Terror is executed.A released Rose continues her survival and the protection of her fledgling family by artfully affiliating with the right power brokers of the shifting political hierarchy While other histories chronicle her as being the mistress of several powerful men during her widowhood, this novel shows her with only one lover, a married man, General Hoche, until she meets Napoleon, and agrees to another marriage of convenience for her, to dispense an obligation to the all powerful Deputy Barras who is paying for her children s education and is one of the rulers by committee of the new Republic for Bonaparte, to legitimize his Corsican heritage with the French and be appointed Chief of the Italian Army.The novel is written as Rose s diary and hence certain events occur off stage, and yet the on stage happenings are vividly re created with penetrating intimacy What is fascinating is the portrayal of the shifting allegiances of the time people in favour one day are out of favour the next, the aristocracy is forced to become ordinary citoyen while the common man steps into seats of power and influence and are seen drinking water from finger bowls and blowing their noses on table cloths Marriages are formal and loveless, while passion is found only with lovers Even Rose and Alexandre take different lovers while sharing the same prison and awaiting their impending execution Peculiar customs of the time footmen arranging women s hairdo s, young women being bled to give them a fair and pale complexion in public, rinsing with urine to numb a toothache, maids standing by with needles and thread for emergency garment repairs during the Queen s ball, having flowers aka having a menstrual period, drinking port and beer during a pregnancy very interesting indeed I believe I will read the other two books in this trilogy, for this indeed is a Sodom and Gomorrah period of recent history and Gulland deserves kudos for the meticulous research behind this effortlessly delivered novel.

  7. says:

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  8. says:

    NO SPOILERSI 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 name Well, Napolean decided to change his own name too You truly understood what she went through her youth in Martinique, her life with her first husband, her relationships with her two children by this first husband, her experiences of the French Revolution and of course Napolean The primary reason why I give these books five stars is b c you REALLY get to know the people Josephine, her children and Napolean and his unbelievably yucky family Somehow this author makes these people and their lives and the times they lived through REAL The style of writing is not extraordinary, but what the author achieves is extraordinary Don t be put off that the book is written as diary entries It doesn t read like that The dates are simply helpful so you know exactly when the historical events are occurring The footnotes are interesting and informative.The chronological summary at the back of the books is helpful if you ever want to see the historical events at a glance, but honestly it is not necessary b c everything is so interesting that you never get confused In my view this trilogy better describes the French Revolution than Hillary Mantel s A Place of Greater Safety Mantel has risen to such popularity for her book Wolf Hall In Gulland s trilogy you become involved You understand how it might feel to fight for fraternity, liberty and equality and then see it being torn away again by the Royalists Over and over again The French Revolution was really a civil war with friends becoming foes and everyone changing sides all the time What the Terror meant to the people living through it is heart wrenching You come to understand how after all these troubles, Napolean and his Empire came into being How can the French people seek freedom and then back the formation of an empire, and emperor with hereditary succession All this becomes very, very clear and you think the same yourself I haven t said a word about Josephine s relationship with Napolean THIS is the most moving part of the book This is a true love story She knew her husband He loved her AND she loved him DON T on the other hand think that Josephine is a weak, head over heels in love woman She has an excellent brain and she uses it She is a business woman She loves winning a game, a gamble She is marvelous There have always been strong women Everyone says women have no rights and they are constantly pushed down, but some women defied all the cutoms of their times And they get away with it marvelously That I understand Josephine and what is going on in her head and what her emotions were is perhaps LESS surprising than that I ALSO com to understand Napolean the general, the emperor I highly recommend this trilogy History that goes down like a spoonful of Tom and Jerry ice cream 0 Personally, I think you learn from this book than a dry history book that makes no attempt to put flesh and blood on to the bones of the historical entities Don t forget the epilogue and the postscript Further, the comments below also discuss why I loved this trilogy Through page 146 Althought this reads like engaging fiction, the known facts of Josephine Bonaparte s life are accurately documented Personally I find her sojourns at Martinique very much as engaging as her time spent in Paris It is very interesting to read of diverse issues occurring at the time of the French Revolution and not JUST the polical trends You get a complete view of the times You experience storms at sea and on the island These storms actually occurred Grain was destroyed and made the people in Paris hungry and is an important cause for the social and political unrest You learn of how the peopled suffered from illnesses and old age Josephine s love for her children feels true Napolean still hasn t entered the scence.Through page 129 Life seems so terribly dangerous It is now 1788 The conditions described concern a family that is privileged The conditions for the poor are horrendous The events and the conditions feel very, very real Through page 97 How the aristocrats lived in the late 1700s before the French Revolution in Paris is well described Childbirth, sexual relationships, dress, food, theater, literature, the salons, Rousseau s political beliefs, the Royalty s behavior and are all viewed through the eyes of Josephine and her new acquaintances in Paris Did you know that Voltaire s writings are full of spelling errors I like knowing that I feel a bit better So the story is interesting The language is fine, but nothing exceptional There is no reason to quote anything The characters are interesting, but I wouldn t say I am emotionally drawn to anyone So far it is a light, intersting read Oh, and Josephine has still not met Napolean.Through page 43 The book reads like a novel It consists of short paragraph entries in Josephine s diary which she received on her 14th birthday I am thoroughly enjoying this, which actually surprises me for two reasons First of all you do not doubt that it is a novel Secondly, I usually hate epistolary writing Here again, all rules can be broken Josephine s voice rings true for a young girl in the late 1700s It is however not written in a stilted voice The diary entries are very short, so they are in no way clumsy It is just like reading intereting paragraphs with an added date Historical notes are added at the bottom of the page to give indepth information I like reading them The reader may do as they choose Did you know that the green flash , the line of green that can appear in the sky at sunrise or sunset, was thought to bring you good luck Or that Britain at that time was preventing shipments of salt to Martinique b c the French were helping the Americans in their War of Independence from Britain I am also curious about the belief in voodoo mystic on the island at this time I have always been taught to call the island Martinique, but the back cover uses the name Martinico why And let me add that much has already happened in only 43 pages What a relief after Pnin Good descriptive writing, but so terribly mean spirited Ughhh.

  9. says:

    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 experienced Same verse, same insight Since the author chose to use a diary format, she needs to be true to the character s own personal growth I also found all of the names of the various characters a bit confusing and I couldn t really believe Rose would befriend some of the politicians she meets after her marriage Another flaw with the story was her relationship with her husband it wasn t believable He was not a nice guy, he never was Yet, she felt such an obligation toward him which just didn t resonate with me While the novel may be based in fact, I felt like the author just didn t provide enough depth and complexity within Rose s character Rose is a strong woman, so at times, her choices just didn t make sense This book is one of three, but I highly doubt I will be reading the next two The story just lost my interest towards the end.

  10. says:

    I found this a very exciting smooth read and after every session looked forward to coming back for 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 insight into post Terror France and the time of the directory, with intimate portrayals of French politcians of the time such as Barras, Tallien and FoucheIt is towards the end of the novel where we get to explore the courtship of Rose by the brash young general Napoleon Buonoparte, the protege of the leading figure of the Directory, Deputy Barras.The book makes one feel excited to see into the private life and thoughts of Josephine, but he way the politics and society of the France of the time as well as the focus on the slave rebellion on Martinique inspired by the revolution is analysed and presented in a worm s eye view What we see in the heroin She is named Rose for most of the novel but as we know her by Josephime B that is her name in the title because not many of us know her as Rose Tascher is complex woman, a proud libertine but with a thread of strong compassion for the impoverished masses and horror at the depredations of the terror.

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