Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Annemarie Selinko, DESIREE
The fictionalized autobiography of Eugenie Desiree Clary, daughter of a silk merchant of Marseilles, former fiancee to Napoleon, and wife of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, later King of Sweden. (Yes, she was a real person, with an almost unreal life.) One of my favorite novels as a teen, it was written in 1951 and translated from the German; it's a good old-fashioned, well-researched, thoroughly engaging read. Takes you through French history from the late days of the Revolution through Napoleon's campaigns, and his death, yet remains Desiree's story. First lines: "A woman can usually get what she wants from a man if she has a well-developed figure. So I've decided to stuff four handkerchiefs into the front of my dress tomorrow; then I shall look really grown up."