Monday, September 17, 2012

DESIREE By Annemarie Selinko

Kirkus Reviews
A fresh and new- for most readers- panel in the Napoleonic saga, through what purports to be the diary of Napoleon's first sweetheart, Eugenie Desiree Clary, daughter of a Marseilles silk merchant, and to the end of his life a recurrent influence at vital crises in his meteoric career. One sees him- through her eyes- as the little general, a penniless Corsican with an unshakeable faith in his star of destiny, an ego offset by rare charm. Then- as the man she loved, who found alliance with the glamorous Josephine more useful to his career. Successively she turned down the offers for her hand made- at Napoleon's behest -- and ultimately married, for love, one of his Marshals, Bernadotte, ultimately selected as Crown Prince of Sweden, founder of the present ruling line. Desiree was an ardent and loyal little person, with little education either in books or manners, and rather stubbornly determined to be wanted for herself alone, in whichever court her presence was demanded. But through her stormy passage in an era of history in the making, the reader gets a sense of being on the inside track, in events, in mood, in atmosphere, in consciousness of personalities that have taken their places in recorded history. Overlong- at times repetitive- but the interest rarely lags and the manner of telling keeps one reading even where the pattern of story is a familiar one. Already a best seller in Europe, this has the substantial backing of an enthusiastic publisher here.

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