A sweeping novel about the extraordinary woman who captured Napoleon’s heart, created a dynasty, and changed the course of history—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife, The Accidental Empress, and Sisi.
As the French revolution ravages the country, Desiree Clary is faced with the life-altering truth that the world she has known and loved is gone and it’s fallen on her to save her family from the guillotine.
A chance encounter with Napoleon Bonaparte, the ambitious and charismatic young military prodigy, provides her answer. When her beloved sister Julie marries his brother Joseph, Desiree and Napoleon’s futures become irrevocably linked. Quickly entering into their own passionate, dizzying courtship that leads to a secret engagement, they vow to meet in the capital once his career has been secured. But her newly laid plans with Napoleon turn to sudden heartbreak, thanks to the rising star of Parisian society, Josephine de Beauharnais. Once again, Desiree’s life is turned on its head.
Swept to the glittering halls of the French capital, Desiree is plunged into the inner circle of the new ruling class, becoming further entangled with Napoleon, his family, and the new Empress. But her fortunes shift once again when she meets Napoleon's confidant and star general, the indomitable Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. As the two men in Desiree’s life become political rivals and military foes, the question that arises is: must she choose between the love of her new husband and the love of her nation and its Emperor?
From the lavish estates of the French Riviera to the raucous streets of Paris and Stockholm, Desiree finds herself at the epicenter of the rise and fall of an empire, navigating a constellation of political giants and dangerous, shifting alliances. Emerging from an impressionable girl into a fierce young woman, she discovers that to survive in this world she must learn to rely upon her instincts and her heart.
Allison Pataki’s meticulously researched and brilliantly imagined novel sweeps readers into the unbelievable life of a woman almost lost to history—a woman who, despite the swells of a stunning life and a tumultuous time, not only adapts and survives but, ultimately, reigns at the helm of a dynasty that outlasts an empire.
This impeccably researched, expertly rendered historical from Pataki (The Traitor's Wife) gloriously recreates the personal dramas surrounding Napoleon Bonaparte. Following the French Revolution, Napoleon falls hard for beautiful Desiree Clary, a sheltered and wealthy 16-year-old. They become engaged, and their siblings also marry, but Napoleon has second thoughts when he meets socialite Josephine de Beauharnais. As Napoleon racks up military victories, Desiree and Josephine become friends, and they both end up in places they never expected to be. Desiree leaves a Catholic convent school in the south of France for glittering Paris parties, and later joins the Swedish nobility. Pataki's skill in chronicling Napoleon's transformation from an idealistic young soldier to a ruthless, callous leader drives the story, and her sumptuous scenes allow the reader to easily examine the political machinations and extreme luxury of the monarchy. Readers who enjoy Elizabeth Chadwick will want to take a look.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Queen’s Fortune
I have enjoyed the story of Desirée Clary since I read Annemarie Selinko’s novel, Desirée, when I was a teenager in the 1960’s. So I was looking forward to this book. But this is the same story, written in the same first person voice, starting at the same place with her brother’s arrest In Marseille leading to her meeting the Bonapartes. I was disappointed that the only difference between the two books is this one’s slightly longer treatment of her time after the Swedish coronation.