Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

January 8, 2014 Whitney Review 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Becoming Josephine by Heather WebbBecoming Josephine by Heather Webb
Published by Plume on December 31st 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Netgalley

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.
Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.
After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.
Becoming Josephine is a novel of one woman's journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

With the exclusion that Josephine was married to Napoleon Bonaparte I knew next to nil about this historical figure.  I instantly fell in love.  The descriptions were vivid, the story sweeping, and immediately rooted for Josephine.  She led a very interesting life with difficulties that could have caused her to roll into a ball and huddle in the corner, waiting until the coast was clear, but she stood tall.  It this regard she reminded me of Scarlet O’Hara and her gumption.  Perhaps it is just my love for the novel, but I could see Josephine creating a dress out of curtains to seduce  a Rhett Butleresque character if it would be to her benefit.

While I enjoyed Heather Webb’s novel from beginning to end the section that most caught my attention was Josephine’s time at Les Carmes prison.  I found her stint there to be revealing, not only of the strength of her character but also how much her story had gripped me, I needed to read this book like I needed to breathe oxygen.  To be cliché, I was spellbound.

After a tantalizing time the meeting and eventual relationship between Napoleon and Josephine emerges.  The moment that had been just beyond the horizon had come and frankly, I was indifferent.  Bonaparte encompassed a spoiled toddler going through the “terrible twos”  and the peripheral was family squabbles.  It was still a very interesting soapbox with Josephine coming off as Mother Teresa.  I think, because said relationship is all I knew about the heroine I was expecting some big bang and instead was only as large as Bonaparte.  Even still, I was in rapture by the storytelling, only this time I slowed down a bit and enjoyed the view.

Overall, Becoming Josephine was a worthwhile read and captured my imagination long after my Kindle had been switched off.


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