Published: 2010 Sourcebooks
Désirée is enchanted by the young officer, and he asks her to marry him. But he must leave for Paris, where he meets his eventual wife Josephine. A heartbroken Désirée is unsure she'll ever find anyone again. A love story, but so much more, Désirée is the tale of a simple merchant's daughter who ends up with a kind of royalty she never expected: an unforgettable story just waiting to be reborn.
This book was just enchanting, I was a little worried at first since it was published in the 50's but this latest version does not differ from books today. It was just like a historical novel should be like.
I know quite a lot about Désirée's later years, thanks to my love of history, and Swedish tv once had this great miniseries about all the Bernadotte queens.
Desiree Clary was the daughter of a Silk Merchant from Marseille, and when she was 14 she met the poverished Napoleon Bonaparte. Her sister married his brother, and that was sure a catch since these two girls had a great dowry. Napoleon asked Desiree to marry him and that would take place when she turned 16. But sadly before that he went to Paris where he meet the enigmatic and beautiful, and older, Josephine. Desiree would later meet Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte whom she would marry. By then totally mixed up in the Bonaparte family and Napoleon's need for more. Later the Swedish asked Bernadotte to become crown prince of Sweden. And so this simple merchant daughter from France become a real queen.
I do not need to say that this book was filled with history. Napoleon's struggle to the top, him becoming emperor and making all his siblings kings and queens. The years of wars, with the German states, Russia, and so on. And in the middle of all this stood Desiree. First as a relative to the family and then as a wife to one of the most known Generals in France, all of Europe. It was fascinating to see history unfold around her as she wrote in her diary and telling how it all was. I always did wonder. Napoleon and her, did they really never have an affair? This book makes it as she was deeply in love with her husband, and never strayed on her, and him only taking a mistress later on cos it was expected. But then I googled and read there was one maybe, and another man whose mistress she seems to have been. I am glad that was left out, because doing that this whole book is one romantic fantasy.
Desiree herself, well, she never gave Sweden a chance. Sure it's colder, and she was not a princess, but I felt she should have stayed cos of her son. Instead she left for France.
Other than the romance, there is the history, wars and political intrigues. This book never has a dull moment. It was very hard to put down in the end, even if it was really long. The author has of course taken artistic freedom but she stays true to the big picture.
One other thing, I have sure not read a book in a long while that mentions Finland so much, of course I enjoy that. The Swedes really wanted us back and hoped Bernadotte could go to war and conquer Finland back, alas no.
Blodeuedd's Cover Corner: hm
Reason for Reading: publisher
Final thoughts: A story about a fascinating woman who lived in an interesting period of time.