Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review - Désirée by Annemarie Selinko

The bestselling story of Napoleon's first love brings a passionate and historical love story to life in a book completely impossible for readers to put down
Everyone knows about the heartbreaking and titillating love story between the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte and his beautiful Josephine, but Josephine was not Napoleon’s only love. It all began in Marseilles during the revolution when people were called to do things they wouldn’t normally do, one man had great dreams, and one woman wanted only to live.
This book is not just for historical fiction fans, or lovers of the romance genre; this tale of love and loss, of pain and grace, and war and victory is a story that every reader both young and old should take part in. The literary prose is noteworthy, the fiction elements perfectly blended with the historical and the plotline so perfect that history becomes human and touches hearts in a way only great books have the supernatural ability to do.
The Characters in Désirée by Annemarie Selinko
Eugenie Désirée Clary, daughter of silk merchant Francois Clary, was only 14 when she met a shabby general of the French army and fell in love. Though she was betrothed to this general, he went to Paris and met a more beautiful woman by the name of Josephine de Beauharnais. Leaving with a broken heart, Mlle Clary became known as Désirée. The general she had loved became the self-crowned King of France and a man known for his victories both far and wide.

Désirée married another General in the French army by the name of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, to whom she bore one son by the name of Oscar. Bernadotte became heir to the Swedish throne and through the war of 1812 became the King of Sweden and Norway, making Désirée the Queen. Désirée then changed her named to Desideria and continued to reside in Paris until she finally consented to move to Sweden much later in life.
History Meets Fantasy in Désirée by Annemarie Selinko

The characters are factual, as were their roles in history, however, author Annemarie Selinko added a few twists to what she believed truly happened. Within the pages of Désirée we read of a love story both profound and endearing as Desiree takes a part in world history and plays a role that she never imagined she would have. A lowly silk merchant’s daughter becomes a queen, but what she does and the different roles she plays are a little exaggerated from truth for the benefit of the story.

Bernadine Eugenie Clary, Désirée, Queen Desideria of Sweden and Norway

The novel Désirée is a fictional tale written as a journal by the historical Désirée. Within the murky tale we read of guillotines, first loves, wars, history, family responsibilities, court intrigues, balls, parties and so very much more. Reading a tale of truth and fiction combined through the eyes of a single girl turned queen, draws the reader into the tale and makes the characters living and breathing people that jump from the pages as if we knew them personally.
Though long, as is expected, the tale of Désirée is so deep and meaningful and written so expertly that fans have proclaimed the novel one of the best love stories of all time. A first person narrative of wars we all have read of, mixed with the drama and captivation of love makes this story unutterably unforgettable. Readers will want to cry and smile and grip the book as if it were a lifeline to another time and place. The book will whisk you away as if the wars, the victories, and the parties were being played out before your very eyes.
Désirée by Annemarie Selinko
Having first published the book in 1953 with William Morrow & Company, the author would have never foreseen a new republication by Sourcebooks Inc. in October of 2010; not to mention that the story has also made it on the big screen. In 1954, Marlon Brando played the part of Napoleon to Jean Simmons’ Désirée, and the story was truly brought to life. The New York Times said “This is a fascinating panorama, from the blood and sawdust reek of Robespierre’s guillotine to the final collapse of the Hundred Days,” and the Boston Post hailed it as “The most fascinating historical novel since Gone With the Wind.”
The tale of Désirée is not just an inside look at the intriguing Bonapartes but also a look at the heart and soul of a woman who was called to be greater than she had dreamed while placed amidst a time when the rise and fall of empires would make world history. Right until the last page, you will witness intrigue, action, love, passion, pain, fear and every other emotion written into words that will hold you and grip you until the last of the story is told.
About Annemarie Selinko; the Author of Désirée
Annemarie Selinko was born in Vienna in 1914 and lived a life very different than the one of main character depicted in her critically acclaimed novel; Desiree. A journalist and author of many works written in German, Annemarie Selinko lived a life of a refugee. From Copenhagen, to Paris, to London, to Stockholm; this admired author has been around the world, trying to escape the wars that followed her. Annemarie Selinko’s last and most popular book; Desiree was dedicated to the memory of her sister Liselotte, who was murdered by Nazi’s in WWII.

Book Review - Désirée by Annemarie Selinko | 

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