Perhaps the most successful historical romance since GONE WITH THE WIND, DESIREE is the bestselling novel of Napoleon's first love. All the passions and intrigues of Bonaparte's court are seen through the eyes of a silk merchant's daughter from Marseilles, a young woman who became Napoleon's fiancee and, ultimately, the Queen of Sweden. 'An astonishing story told with verve and a swift, fluent and deeply feminine charm.
The Napoleonic background is vivid and accurate' Evening Standard First published in 1953.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 592 pages
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 18/07/2002
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9781842125212
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Review by AdonisGuilfoyle
A novelised biography of Desiree Clary Bernadotte (1777-1860), in the style of Jean Plaidy. German author AnneMarie Selinko penned this fictional account of Desiree's life in the 1940s, and both the translation and age of the writing show, but also add to the credibility of the narrative. I usually hate the 'Dear Diary' format employed here, but grew to love 'Desiree's voice - honest, forthright and sympathetic.Born Bernadine Eugenie Desiree Clary, daughter of a Marseilles silk merchant, Desiree is one of those incredible real life characters who are in the right place at the right time - or the wrong time, perhaps - to get caught up forever in the pages of the history books. Desiree was engaged as a young girl to Napoleon Bonaparte - and became his sister-in-law, through the marriage of her sister to his brother - but eventually wed one of his generals, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, and became Queen Desideria of Sweden! You couldn't make this stuff up. Being slow on the uptake, I didn't even realise until halfway into the novel, that Desiree is not a fictional romance heroine (although some of the facts and dates have necessarily been 'embroidered' by Selinko) - finding her Wikipedia page made reading her story all the more exciting.That said, the pace does flag in places - particularly towards the closing chapters - and Desiree's reporting of Napoleon's doings is slightly clunky at times, but all in all, an incredible life story well told. I might risk watching the film version, with Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons!