The fascinating and passionate marriage between Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais is considered one for the ages. Between Napoleon’s romantic love letters to her and their passionate bickering, they are one of the most fascating couples throughout history. “Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe” by Sandra Gulland is the second novel in her series on Josephine de Beauharnais. The novel explores the relationship between Napoleon and Josephine and how Josephine dealt with Napoleon’s surprising (but not to him or her) rise to power.
The second novel in the series picks up immediately after Napoleon and Josephine are married No longer named Rose, Napoleon changes her name to Josephine believing it suits her better. At first, Josephine is hesistant about her marriage as her children, family members, and friends do not approve, but she slowly, but surely begins to see the greatness of this man. Napoleon’s deep and almost obsessive love for Josephine is a major theme throughout the novel. Their passionate relationship is full of jealousy, distrust, and arguments, but throughout it all Napoleon loves Josephine and Josephine begins to love Napoleon. The novel also focuses on Josephine’s difficult relationships with the many members of Napoleon’s family including his older brother, Joseph, his younger sister, Pauline, and his mother. Also featured in the novel are the many political struggles still going on in France as well as the many battles Napoleon faced on the battlefield. Told in a diary format, Josephine’s day to day activities are featured as well as her innermost feelings. The novel ends with Napoleon rising to power in France with Josephine by his side, him triumphant and her cautiously awaiting their future.
The second novel in this series is just as wonderful as the first. Gulland writes Josephine so beautifully that readers really disappear into her character and feel as if they are on her journey with her. This is one of those rare characters in a novel that you really come to know, understand, and root for. The diary format continues to be wonderfully written as you really understand what Josephine is experiencing from the good, the bad, and even just simply the day to day.
Gulland also portrays the Napoleon and Josephine relationship in a fascinating manner. Napoleon is deeply in love and obsessed with Josephine while Josephine is unsure of her feelings for her strange husband. When Josephine finally realizes her love for Napoleon, it is powerful.
Also strongly portrayed in the novel is the political upheval in France. Gulland paints a picture of France after the French Revolution and Reign of Terror as free of bloodshed, but still in danger as a country. The novel ends with the thought that only Napoleon can save the country.
“Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe” is a beautifully written novel. Gulland portrays a complex marriage and a country teetering on the edge, but the heart of the story is Josephine’s journey throughtout life. What a woman!
To purchase “Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe”: http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Passion-Woe-Sandra-Gulland/dp/0684856077
For more information on Sandra Gulland: http://www.sandragulland.com/