By Kate Williams
Their love was once mythical, their ambition flagrant and unashamed. Napoleon Bonaparte and his spouse, Josephine, got here to energy in the course of essentially the most turbulent classes within the background of France. the tale of the Corsican soldier’s remarkable upward push has been good documented. Now, during this spellbinding, luminous account, Kate Williams attracts again the curtain at the girl who beguiled him: her humble origins, her exorbitant appetites, and the tragic flip of occasions that ended in her undoing.
Born Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Tascher de los angeles Pagerie at the Caribbean island of Martinique, the girl Napoleon may later name Josephine used to be the final word survivor. She persisted a loveless marriage to a French aristocrat—executed throughout the Reign of Terror—then slightly escaped the guillotine blade herself. Her near-death event basically fueled Josephine’s ambition and heightened her decision to discover a guy who might finance and maintain her. even though no vintage attractiveness, she speedy constructed a name as probably the most fascinating girls at the continent.
In 1795, she met Napoleon. The appeal was once mutual, rapid, and excessive. Theirs used to be an often-tumultuous union, roiled by way of their pursuit of different fanatics yet intensely curious about strength and good fortune. Josephine was once Napoleon’s ideal consort and the article of nationwide fascination. jointly they conquered Europe. Their extravagance used to be unheard of, even via the factors of Versailles. yet she couldn't produce an inheritor. Sexual obsession introduced them jointly, yet chilly organic fact tore them apart.
Gripping in its immediacy, desirable in its element, Ambition and hope is a real story of wish, heartbreak, and innovative turmoil, engagingly written through one in all England’s so much praised younger historians. Kate Williams’s searing portrait of this eye-catching and complicated girl will ultimately raise Josephine Bonaparte to the historic prominence she merits.
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Additional info for Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte
Priestley, The History and Present State of Electricity, II, 134138, and passim; Journal de Bruxelles, January 10, 1784, p. 81, and March 6, 1784, p. 39 (see also May 15, 1784, p. 139); Courier de I'Europe, OctoberS, 1784, p. 228; Journal de Physique, July 1781, p. 80; Courier de l'Europe, August 27, 1784, p. 135; Journal de Paris, April 23, 1784, p. 501, and April 27, 1784, pp. 516-517; Annee litteraire I (1785), 5, 8. Mallet du Pan put mesmerism in its proper context while reporting on its enormous popularity in his Journal historique et politique (Geneva), February 14, 1784, p.
Failing to foresee the Revolution, Frenchmen did not interest themselves in political theory. They discussed mesmerism and other apolitical fads, like balloon flights. Why, indeed, should they have tortured themselves with the difficult and seemingly irrelevant abstractions of the Social Contract when they could fill their thoughts with Chilean monsters, flying machines, and the other miracles offered them by the wonderful, invisible powers of science? True, the censorship prevented serious discussion of politics in publications like the Journal de Paris, France's only daily paper.
The bookseller S. P. Hardy noted in his private journal that the "frenzy" of mesmerism had overcome even the passion for balloon flights. "Men, women, children, everyone is involved, everyone mesmerizes," remarked the Memoires secrets; and Meister concurred: "Everyone is occupied with mesmerism. One is dazzled with its marvels, and if one admits doubts about its powers ... " "The great subject of all conversations in the capital is still animal magnetism," said the Courier de l' Europe; and the Journal de Bruxelles reported, "We are concerned only with animal magnetism ...
Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams