Friday 8 October 2010

Review: Désirée - Annemarie Selinko

Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 608
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.


  1. You know I think this is one of your very best reviews :) Very nice.

    I am reading... and have been for some time - Across the Endless River which is about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau. So this may be an interesting book for you. And this one for me.

    Unlike you I am so very bad at history..

  2. Wow this just sounds fantastic. Thank you for bringing to my attention. I can't wait to read it!

  3. Thank you for a very nice review. I enjoy history and romance and family sagas so this sounds up my street.

  4. Sounds good, thanks! for sharing.

  5. It's always fun to read about where you live, isn't it?

  6. Great review and I like it that you connected it to your own heritage, that's nice. I read the novel a few years ago and completely loved it. It's a great account of Desiree's life and of history of that time.

  7. Wow this sounds like it takes place in a part of history that I don't know much about so it'd be well worth a read!

  8. I very much enjoyed reading about Desiree since I hadn't ever heard of her before. Stories about girls marrying royalty and becoming queens are fun, especially when they're true. :)

  9. This sounds really interesting!! It sounds like there was a lot of history in this one.

  10. Lovely review.
    Isn't it great when a book surprises you? :)

  11. Wow, this sounds really good! Great review, too :)

  12. Great review! I've read so much good about this that I need to get my hands on it :) And I don't really know anything about Napoleon or that era so it should be interesting. And if it mentions Finland, all the better :)

  13. Awww thanks Shellie! That is really nice of you to say, I am sure I could have written a lot about thsi book but had to stop myself.

    It was so good, I am always weary with "old" books because sometimes they can feel textbook like but not this one, not at all

    Then do not wait, go get it, lol

  14. Hi Tribute
    Yes it was such a good one, and Napoleon, did not like that little man

    It sure is, they even mentioned a city, yay, lol

    It's so good, bf's mum had read it and loved it too. Everyone just seems to eb swept away

  15. Amused
    That whole after revolution/Napoleon era can sure be confusing, so I knew things, but not every little detail. And now I got to know the people behind it

    Every little girls dream, well except for Desiree, she really didn't like those palaces

    Oh yes, a lot, an a lot. but never too much

  16. Juju
    It's the best feeling :=)

    Thanks Mary
    And yes, good historicals makes me happy

    They even mentioned Åbo, and once Abo, but yeah same thing :) So that was really cool. There was a meeting there between Bernadotte and the Tsar

  17. This sounds so fascinating! I've never heard of Desiree before and I'm always eager to learn new things, so thanks for vouching for this one and adding a new book to my wishlist. :)

  18. Sounds like a great book. I know what you mean about a book mentioning where you are. I love it when books mention my state and I can see where they are talking about.

    Love those books that have history in it!

  19. I'm not a fan of romance, but I am a fan of France and its history, so I'd give this book a try.

  20. I skimmed your review because I still have this one to read soon. I loved that there was never a dull moment!

  21. Hey honey! I am popping in on your side of town to see how my dear friend is doing! I hope all is well honey! Thank you for popping in and out at my place! I love knowing you are there!!! Hugs to you and I hope you have a great weekend!

  22. I love to read about the place I live. Always ncie to search for mistakes. Sounds liek a nice hist rom.

  23. I really need to read this book! I have heard such great things about it. Thanks for this great review! So glad you enjoyed it :)

  24. Meghan
    Never!? Well then it is sure about time you learnt more about her life :)

    I know, so fun, and especially since books so very very rarely mentions Finland

    Since it's a historical fiction book then the romance is not really romance, it's more a telling how they met and loved

  25. Staci
    I hope you like it, it's such a classic, and so much going on in it

    Yes I have been stopping by fast this week, been ill, but almost totally cured now, so yay for that

    Hihi, yes I do look at the mistakes to see what I can find ;)

    WIll have a look :)

    I am sure you would like it, just go for it. And the book does fit with your name

  26. This sounds really good, I love a good historical.
    Great review!!

  27. p.s. I like your new blog header :)

  28. I can't remember the last time I read any historical fiction, and to be honest, I'm not much of a history buff, but this sounds like a really good book. I don't think I've ever learned about Napoleon in depth and I've never heard of Désirée but now I really want to read this book. Great review!

  29. Thanks Naida, I am so happy with Lea's work, she is a magician :)

    I have always loved it, and ever since my first history lesson it was my fav subject :)



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