Monday, September 17, 2012


Désirée: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First Love

Lynette Vinet
Excellent older book by Annemarie Selinko about the life of Eugenie Desiree Clary, a silk merchant's daughter, who was the first love of Napoleon Bonaparte. She later married Jean Baptiste Bernadotte who became the King of Sweden. Their descendants rule Sweden today.

I read this book years ago and am rereading it again. The only criticism I have is that the book becomes bogged down at times with the information about Napoleon's campaigns and the political landscape of the time. Important informat...more
Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Suzy
I'm not sure where you would even find this book in print anymore as I read my mom's old paperback copy from the 70s and I have never seen it in stores.

If you can find it though, it's definitely worth it, especially if you enjoy historical fiction. The book follows the life of Desiree, the woman who was engaged to Napoleon before he "hit the big time." Instead though, she eventually marries one of his rivals and complications ensue.

It's very readable and really interesting because it's all based...more
Susanne rated it 5 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers
The bad first - it is fictional and it is basically chick-lit. But of the best historical fiction/chick lit books.

The novel tells in diary style the life of Désirée Clary-Bernadotte. Napoleon Bonaparte's first fiancee, later Madame Marechale Bernadotte and finally Queen Desideria of Sweden (who is also sister-in-law to Napoleon's brother Joseph). All of these are true historical facts and make in themselves a compelling read. In her diary entries which run from about 1793 to 1830...more
fatemeh kashefi
سال دوم دبيرستان اين كتاب رو به دست گرفتم و گمان كنم بيش از 10 مرتبه از ابتدا تا انتها خوندم. با تكتك وقايع زندگي شخصيت‌هاي كتاب زندگي كردم. صبوري و دريات دزيره و همسرش براي من هميشه يه الگو بود. هميشه از خوندن زندگي‌نامه لذت مي‌برم و اين يكي از قشنگ‌ترين زندگينامه‌هايي است كه تا الان خوندم.
كساني كه از دنبال يك رمان عاشقانه و قابل لمس مي گردند به نظر من دزيره گزينه لذتبخشي برايشان خواهد بود.
La Stamberga dei Lettori
Désirée Clary è indubbiamente un personaggio che ben si presta al romanzo storico. Visse in un periodo di grandi trasformazioni e, da fidanzata borghese quattordicenne di un giovane generale corso, Napoleone Bonaparte, sposò poi un altro generale, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte e si ritrovò regina di Svezia e Norvegia.

Non mi stupisce, dunque, che l’ormai ultasessantenne romanzo di Annemarie Selinko abbia goduto di un ampio successo e di una trasposizione cinematografica con protagonisti Marlon Brando...more
John Conrad
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

Annemarie Selinko's last novel: Desiree has become my top favourite 18th c HF read- without a doubt. The story of Eugenie Desiree Clary, Napoleon Bonaparte's first love is in my opinion one of the best novels ever written pertaining to the Revolution era- in terms of history, romance, historical characters, and impeccable writing style. This book kept me captivated from beginning to end. And- the funny thing is that I read this intermittently due to other priorities, so I naturally thought I'd f...more
The true story of an exceptional woman in History.

By AnneMarie Selinko
500 pp.New York
William Morrow & Company. $20.00


Desiree is the story of a young girl told in first person narration. It is her diary which reveals her life experiences and deepest thoughts. It all starts when she meets Napoleon Bonaparte, the infamous dictator of France during the 1800's. Fourteen year old Desiree Clary falls in love with Napoleon's sweet, romantic charm. He truly impresses her with...more
Alana rated it 3 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
When it comes to Napoleon Bonaparte's love life, his tempestuous relationship with Josephine is almost always at the forefront. But did you know that before Napoleon met and fell in love with Josephine, he was engaged? Desiree Clary started out life as a silk merchant's daughter, but despite all of their differences, her life remained entertwined with Napoleon's - she was with him at his coronation and she was with him at his final abdication following Waterloo.

One of the aspects of this novel t...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Désirée is one of those old family favorites which I've read many times and keep coming back to like an old friend.

It's the sweeping story of Désirée Clary, the daughter of a Marseilles silk merchant, from her early love for and engagement to Napoleon to her later marriage to French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who later became king of Sweden (and Désirée queen). Désirée herself is one of its chief charms; as the book is in the form of an ongoing journal, everything is filtered through her...more
I was in love with this book when I first read it. I got it from my mum, who read it when she was little.
At first I didn't even know that Desirée actually existed. I was enthralled by the story and the characters, particularly by the vivid description of life in this time, the historical connections.
It was one of the first novels I read, before discovering Austen, and it's one of the few that I still re-read from time to time. It's a great book and always fun to read.
Blodeuedd Finland
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 sist...more
Staci rated it 4 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction fans
Recommended to Staci by: Sourcebooks
Shelves: 2010-reads
Why I wanted to read this book:

* I knew absolutely NOTHING about this woman Desiree and found her story to be so intriguing that I just knew I had to read this book.

What worked for me:

* Desiree- I wish I could get in a time machine and meet her! She was truly fascinating and her story is quite unbelievable, but true. She came from humble beginnings, found herself a part of Napoleon's court, married for love, and ended up crowned Queen of Sweden. She was a loyal wife, a nurturing mother, a devo...more
Maia B.
I'll start by saying that I wish Desiree was my best friend, I'm intensely glad Napoleon is dead and buried long ago, and I would marry Jean-Baptiste in a heartbeat. Annemarie Selinko's characters are so well-formed and rounded that I really feel like I know them - Desiree especially. She's compelling, appealing, funny, clever, brave, and all-around wonderful.

I don't know how much of this book is accurate - there's a brief author's note at the end saying that Selinko changed around some of histo...more
Historical fiction about Desiree' Clary, who was Napoleon Bonaparte's fiance before he married Josephine. This book is out of print, but one of my all time favorites (I'm a bit of a Napoleon fanatic). I won't give anything away, but the small but significant role that Desiree' played during a defining time in world history is amazing to me. There is also a movie staring Marlon Brando - but it's a waste of time!
Maryam hosseinian
ناپلئون بناپارت برایم همیشه خیلی جذاب بود شاید هم دلیلش مارلون براندو باشد.به همین دلیل منطقی به شدت دزیره را دوست داشتم و بعد از آن هم هرچه کتاب درباره ناپلئون بود خواندم.البته تاریخ فرانسه را خوب و شیرین روایت می کند این کتاب
I read this book in the late 1950s, just prior to leaving for a three-year tour in France. I learned a lot of French history (of the Napoleonic era), and truly enjoyed this book. Desiree Clary, the sister of Josephine Clary who was married to Joseph Bonaparte, was for a time engaged to Napoleon -- the engagement ended when she went to Paris unannounced and found he was involved with Josephine Beauharnais. When she left the site of this meeting, she bumped into one of Napoleon's generals, Jean-Ba...more
I got this book from the library for my mother who enjoys these historical romance novels but I also ended up reading it. For those of you who can read German, it's better to check out the original version of the book, though I have no complains about this translation, I'm sure that is even better.

This is written in diary format from Désirée's (Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, who later becomes the Queen of Sweden and Norway) POV.
Here's a picture of her: 

She is one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bon...more
Annika rated it 5 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I adore this book!
Désirée Clarys' real character was quite different (I was actually pretty dissapointed when I googled her to find out something about her real live) but this is a story about a strong woman during The French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon.
We find out about Eugénie Bernardine Désirée Clary live by her diary entries, from her live as the daugther of a wealthy tradesmen to her encounters with the young Napoleon, later with the emporer Napoleon until fate makes her queen of...more
Rydia Lavenia
I can't remember when I first read this book... my sister gave it to me and I couldn't believe she wanted me to read historical fiction!! How boring I thought!

Now, I am incredibly obsessed with Napoleon, France, Sweden and the Royal Family. This book is truly delightful! It starts with this poor girl, helplessly falling in love with a dashing young man who happens to be in the Army. He expects great things for himself and reminds her she will be by his side when everything turns out and he leads...more
My mother was reading this book when she was pregnant with me. When I turned 15, she gave me the original copy she had saved. I've read this book 3 times already. It is my absolute favorite. Desiree was the daughter of a merchant in France before Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power. The book explores Desiree's life and trials and how she falls in love with Napoleon. Love is not enough to keep these two together. As Napoleon emerges into a powerful leader, he must follow his path in order to succeed...more
Originally published in 1951, Annemarie Selinko's epic story of love, loss and war withstands the test of time. Through the eyes of Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, the reader is transported through history from the French Revolution's Reign of Terror to the aftermath of Napoleon's rule. Désirée's fictitious diary is heartfelt and charts her course from a humble citizeness of the French Republic to the greatest heights.

I'm not sure my words can do this book justice. Désirée's story brought me t...more
Mathilde Apelt
I just wrote a long review and it somehow disappeared. what did I do wrong? I loved this book. It is old, copyright 1953. It was one of the first books I read when I came into this country from Germany. It's about a silk merchants daughter who becomes friends with Napoleon and later the wife of Bernadotte who becomes the King of Sweden. so, the simple daughter of a merchant in Paris walks in high places and ends up to be the queen of Sweden. My English was not very good when I came, so I asked m...more
danah rated it 5 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"Anyhow, lots of people are guillotined every day in the Town Hall square, and it's not safe to be related to aristocrats. Fortunately, we haven't any fine folk among our relatives."

"The Rights of Man can never be annulled, can they, Papa?
No, they can never be annulled. But they can be temporarily abrogated, openly or secretly, and trodden underfoot. But those who trample on them will incur the deepest blood-guilt in all history. And whenever and wherever in days to come men rob their brethren o...more
Kathleen Kelly
Desiree by AnneMarie Selinko is a re-released novel from Sourcebooks about Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, a Frenchwoman who was engaged to Napoleon Bonaparte. Desiree was the daughter of a silk merchant who became Queen of Sweden and Norway. The story is told by Desiree and follows the lives of the Clary and Bonaparte familys. It depicts Napoleon's rise and ultimate fall as Emperor of France.
After Napoleon breaks off the engagement to marry Josephine de Beauharnais. Desiree marries Jean Bapti...more
I read this when I was a child. I still have the book, the first hardback grown-up book I owned, in those days before YA books. I read it perhaps 20 times in a year and have never read it since. I have no idea how it holds up but when I was a pre-teen, it was the best book I'd ever read. I memorized huge hunks of it. I carried it, To Kill a Mockingbird, and two volumes of Shakespeare with me everywhere.

It caused me to develop a lifelong interest in Napoleon, the history of Revolutionary France...more
Amy Bruno
In his memoirs, dictated while he was in exile on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon named his first love as Desiree Clary, a silk merchant’s daughter from Marseilles. In the breathtaking novel simply titled Desiree, author Annemarie Selinko chronicles the life of the woman who was Napoleon’s fiancee, a woman who rose from being a commoner to becoming a wife of a General to Queen of Sweden and Norway.

As a little girl Desiree received a diary from her beloved father and through it she narrates h...more
How can i explain the beauties of this novel... I've marked almost ten percent of it's pages.
This novel is also a good reference to study the history of Europe in recent gives you a good background about the history of Russia, Italy, Sweden and especially France.
And there is something! i didn't read the last five chapters of this book and about 50 pages are still remaining.i think that i won't read it to the last page; i don't know why but i assume that the most important events...more

Shokufeh شکوفه  Kavani کاوانی
We - Iranian girls - in our highschool time grown up with Desire and she affected our lives somehow as we were all trying to find the prince of our dreams......some of us still looking.

Because there is no Napelone Bonapart any more, either !!!!

اکثر ما دخترهائ ایرانی در دوران دبیرستان با دزیره زندگی کردیم و بزرگ شدیم و به همراه او به دنبال مرد زندگیمان گشتیم...... البته فراموش نشود که بعضی از ما هنوز هم میگردیم !!!!!

چون دیگر ناپلیون بناپارتی وجود ندارد.
دزیره کلاری ،دختر ظریف و زیبای یک تاجر فرانسوی در عنفوان جوانی به جوانی برخورد می کند که فقر و تهیدست است.ج.انی به نام ناپلئون بناپارت که قسمت عظیمی از تاریخ فرانسه را به نام خود رقم زد.ناپلئون با دزیره نرد عشق می بازد اما بعد از مدتی ناپدید شده و با ژوزفین یک بیوه جوان ودرباری ازدواج می کند.بعدها برای تاج گذاری ناپلئون بناپارت دزیره به عنوان همراهان تاج انتخاب می گردد و در مراسم تاج گذاری ناپلئون شرکت می کند که این خود تمام خاطرات شیرین و گذشته آن دو را زنده می کند.دزیره نه زرنگ است نه مکار و ح...more
Désirée White
When I was teenager, I loved learning about European history, and I was fascinated by Napolean. When I learned of this book, I searched numerous libraries for it. It reads easily and tells the story, through a diary perspective, about the maturation of a young woman, Désirée, who was engaged to Napolean before he became the Emperor. I have read it numerous times since I first found it (I found a 1953 copy at a garage sale or thrift store at some point). I love going back and reading it once ever...more
There are so many other books out there about Napoleon and Josephine that when I heard about Desiree, his first love, I had to read about his first love. Selinko does a wonderful job in making her characters feel real and the readers to feel as if they are amongst them. You’ll read about love, betrayal, war, and duty. You’ll smile and you’ll cry as you read the pages of this diary like format “written” by Desiree. She portrays Desiree as a courageous and strong girl turned Queen in her novel. I...more
Jennifer Avondet
I'm basing my five star rating on my personal enjoyment of the book and not on it's literary merit. I can't believe I went this long without knowing about such a strong female in history. This book contains a great deal of interesting detail and sheds light on what it might have been like for citizens of France who watched their values crumble as the swung from massacring nobility in the name if liberty to fighting brutally to maintain a corrupt emperor. This is the type of book that drives me t...more
I read this book many years ago as a teenager while in my read through everything in the library. I love historical fiction and this one is loosley based on a real historical character, who ultimately becomes Queen of Sweden. It is a "fat" book that sweeps from the French Revolution to the defeat of Napolean Bonaparte.
The book ultimately led me to research other historical characters . There was also a commercially producedx Hollywood movie with Jean Simmons in the title role and Marlon Brando a...more
Cassie Wicks
I picked this book up at a thrift store because of its title (being the same name as my daughter). I have always been fascinated by this time period in history (and, side note...grew up in a town named of course this book intrigued me). :)

My own little Desiree is quite taken with the fact that this Desiree became the queen of Sweden (and that all subsequent female members of the royal family are given Desiree as one of their middle names).

There is a movie with Marlon Brando in th...more
Christy B
I was very excited for the chance to read and review the reissue of the classic historical fiction novel Désirée by Annemarie Selinko.

Written in diary form, Désirée is told from the point of view of Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary who was Napoleon's one-time fiancee and who became the Queen of Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Charles XIV John who was a former French General by the name of Bernadotte.

Désirée starts her diary, which was a gift from her father years before, at the age of 14....more
Etta Mcquade
I was fascinated with the history of Napoleon's exploits and learned much about him I didn't know. And, of course, I knew nothing about Desiree Clary, who was engaged to the young Napoleon, and, according to this work of historical fiction, had associations with him over the years.

Desiree married Jean-Batist Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's generals, who became King of Sweden at the Swedish people's request. I wonder how much of Desiree's life is true and if she actually was a go-between the Frenc...more
Clare Cannon (Good Reading Guide)
4.5 stars. This is a great read about the life of young Desiree Clary, unassuming founder of a dynasty. It is romanticised historical fiction and is perhaps rosier than real life, yet it weaves the hard realities of history into its romance in a way that makes you consider the effect of the bigger picture through its details. It is a story of individual characters and their motives, actions and outcomes, and makes you consider history as it would have been to live through.

The narrator, Desiree h...more
*Dapet buntelan dari Serambi*

Sebuah historical fiction tentang gadis putri penjual kain sutra di Marseilles yang hidupnya berubah setelah bersentuhan takdir dengan Napoleon Bonaparte. Ya, Napoleon sang Kaisar Prancis. Desiree awalnya bertunangan dengan Napoleon, tapi Napoleon yang ambisius memilih menikahi wanita yang berpengaruh. Sakit hati dan nyaris bunuh diri, Desiree ditolong oleh soerang jendral, yang kelak akan menjadi lawan sebanding bagi Napoleon: Jendral Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Pria...more
But for the fact that she went to get her brother out of jail....

Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, a wealthy silk merchant's daughter, would not have met young impoverished Napoleon Bonaparte and how different her life might have been. Enchanted by the young officer, she invites him and his brother Joseph to her home - where Joseph finds himself attracted to her sister Julie and her very generous dowry. Still too young to wed at fourteen, she and Napoleon are engaged, but the older Joséphine de...more
LaSchelle rated it 5 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs (particularly French & Swedish), Napolean fans
Recommended to LaSchelle by: Sally W.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Teri rated it 5 of 5 stars false  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teri by: Erika/Sally
Shelves: 2009book-club-2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
دزیره اولین عشق ناپلئون
شخصیت یک مردبنام ناپلئون که در ابتدای داستان آه در بساط نداشت و حس تحقیر و زنده می کرد و در این زمانها بود که با دزیره آشنا شداما مدتها بعد وقتی شهرت یافت
برنادین اوژنی دزیره کلاری در ۸ نوامبر ۱۷۷۷ میلادی در مارسی
بدنیا آمد. او دختر فرانسوا کلاری تاجر ابریشم و خواهر ژولی کلاری که با ژزف بناپارت ازدواج کرد و اندکی بعد ملکه ناپل و اسپانیا شد،بود او در ابتدا عاشق ناپلئون شد و قرار بر این بود که با هم ازدواج کنند ولی پش از چندی پی برد که ناپلئون با بیوه بوهارنه نامزد شد...more
What a fantastic story about an amazing woman! This historical fiction novel was originally written in 1953 and is being re-released by Sourcebooks. Written in diary form it tells the story of Desiree Clary, her love Napoleon, and her rise from merchants daughter to the Queen of Sweden. I really liked that it was written in diary form, but felt that Desiree’s voice should have changed more as she grew and matured. I’m a history buff and learned a lot about Napoleon and that time in history.
Sarah Wagner
I discovered an old well-worn copy of this book at second-hand store. I had never heard of Desiree Clary before, but this book peaked my interest. The daughter of a silk merchant who was engaged to Napoleon Bonaparte and eventually became Queen of Sweden, Desiree's life makes for a good read. It is unfortunate her story is not more widely known. I devoured this book the first time I read it and it got me interested in other books about the period, both fiction and nonfiction.
Mónica Delgado
I totally loved this book! Although the writing is not as poetic as I like it to be, the story is great and the narration really made me feel part of the story.
I became Désirée's best friend while I was reading her journal. I suffered with her, cried and was happy for her.
Her love story with Jean-Baptiste made me doubt their love for each other at many times. So is not the corny tipical love story, it's a more real love, full of manly mistakes, and congruent with the circumstances of their era....more
Enjoyed delving into the Napoleonic era. This book was written in the 1950's and was translated from German. It had a lot of French and European politics (that was the majority of the book) and tied it all together through the "diary" of Desiree Clary, who was engaged to Napoleon before he rose to power. This book made me do some more research on Desiree Clary. It seems there is more to her than is covered in the book, particularly other reasons why she stayed in Paris for so long and also some...more
This was a great find! I liked it from the beginning and was captivated until the very last page. I had been putting off reading this book for a long time- my copy is a little on the ragged side and doesn't look very inviting. I think the fact that it is out of print added a little to the romanticism and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great readable story, based on actual historical events.
great look at napoleon's rise and fall as told by his former fiance and later sister-in-law, eugenie desire clary. the narrator is a former silk merchant's daughter who marries a general in napoleon's army and later becomes queen of sweden. if that sounds odd, you must read it to understand. a tad too much history and military strategy but otherwise a wonderful historical novel and page-turner.
Peggy Bradfield
I never thought I'd enjoy reading about Napoleon, but this story is about a lady who was engaged to marry him and then he up and went to Paris and became engaged to Josephine. Desiree ended up marring one of Napoleon's commanders and they took over as Swedish royalty. All of the current heirs to the Swedish throne are actually of French descent. Loved it, but it is very long.
درباره ناپلئونه... روایت تاریخی در قالب داستان!دزیره رو ناپلئون دوس داشت ولی به خاطر به قدرت رسیدن نتونست باش ازدواج کنه. بعد برنادوت، شوهر همین دزیره، شد پادشاه سوییس و ناپلئون رو از فرانسه بیرون انداخت. بد نبود!
From my book review blog Rundpinne ...."Désirée is rich in vivid detail and imagery, taking the reader back to the world Bernardine Eugenie Désirée Clary inhabited and the numerous conflicts that surrounded her life and the turbulent times she lived. The characters are well developed and I found myself extremely intrigued by Josephine de Beauharnais and will be looking for a book from her perspective next."...The full review may be read here.
Enjoyable historical romance, filled with famous characters from the time of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The relationship between the quotidian living of the royal families and the grand political and military strategies practised by Napoleon and Bernadotte is interesting, while the book also serves as a demonstration of how aspiration to power corrupts.
Heidi Hadley
This book was recommended to me by a former student's mother (does that even make sense?) and I just fell in love with it. If you like Napoleonic historical fiction, then you've probably already read this, because I think it's one of the best. A sweet love story, likable characters, and sweeping historical events make this a very enjoyable read.
Nilam Andini
At first, I thought it's gonna be a boring kinda book. Yet, I found it awesome! Desiree, yang selamanya tetap tak melupakan bahwa dirinya "hanyalah" putri pedagang sutra dari Marseilles mencapai puncak kehidupannya sebagai Ratu Swedia setelah harus mengalami masa sulit dicampakkan oleh kekasih cinta pertamanya, Napoleon Bonaparte. Well, buatku cerita ini disampaikan dengan sangat baik oleh penulis maupun translatornya. Kadang2 ada cerita yang bagus tapi ga well-translated, jadinya ga asik. Hahaa...more
This is a wonderful book based on a true story of a French merchant's daughter who nearly became engaged to the young Napoleon but ended up marrying another great man and becoming the Queen of Sweden.
The novel is a fictional diary of Desiree, who was given a beautiful journal by her late father at the age of 14, just about the same as I was when I read this book. Desiree endured the turbulent rimes during the French Revolution, the loss of her first love and eventually finding The One.
The book...more
A junior high/high school favorite which I first read in the throes of a major crush on Napoleon. Yes, he died almost 140 years before my birth and was shorter than I am, but who can tell where the 13-year-old heart will wander? (For the record, he was 5'6.5" tall, not 5'2" as is generally assumed -- WHY do I know this?)
Dian Macnichol
This is the book that started my life long love of Historical Fiction. At this point I have read and reread this book many times as well as watching the movie as many times as possible. The author made this whole period of French history come alive and made the characters become memorable.

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