By Kate Williams
Their love used to be mythical, their ambition flagrant and unashamed. Napoleon Bonaparte and his spouse, Josephine, got here to energy in the course of the most turbulent sessions within the heritage of France. the tale of the Corsican soldier’s terrific upward push has been good documented. Now, during this spellbinding, luminous account, Kate Williams attracts again the curtain at the lady 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 was once the final word survivor. She persisted a loveless marriage to a French aristocrat—executed through the Reign of Terror—then slightly escaped the guillotine blade herself. Her near-death adventure in basic terms fueled Josephine’s ambition and heightened her selection to discover a guy who may finance and maintain her. even though no vintage good looks, she speedy built a name as essentially the most fascinating girls at the continent.
In 1795, she met Napoleon. The charm used to be mutual, fast, and extreme. Theirs was once an often-tumultuous union, roiled via their pursuit of alternative fanatics yet intensely excited by strength and luck. Josephine used to be Napoleon’s ideal consort and the thing of nationwide fascination. jointly they conquered Europe. Their extravagance used to be unparalleled, even by way of 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, attractive in its element, Ambition and wish is a real story of hope, heartbreak, and innovative turmoil, engagingly written by way of considered one of England’s such a lot praised younger historians. Kate Williams’s searing portrait of this fascinating and intricate lady will ultimately increase Josephine Bonaparte to the old prominence she merits.
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Extra resources for Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte
Projet d’établissement à former à Mana par les Soeurs de St-Joseph de Cluny,” August 29, 1827, 2 a i (1), asjc. 13. “Notes de Madame la Supérieure Génerale des Sœurs de St Joseph sur l’établissement commencé à la Mana,” July 1829, fm sg Guyane 60, Centre des Archives d’Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence (hereafter cited as caom). 14. “Projet d’établissement à former à Mana,” August 29, 1827, 2 a i (1), asjc. 15. “Projet d’établissement à former à Mana,” August 29, 1827, 2 a i (1), asjc. 16. This belief was, of course, most characteristic of early, or “utopian,” socialists, who proposed a variety of new forms of communal life.
Curtis 43 century France—activist, independent, self-conﬁdent—that infuriated most male clerics who came into contact with her; in another paradox her strongest support came from the liberal July Monarchy rather than her own church. Her views on abolition further distanced her from fellow Catholics, few of whom embraced this cause. Yet if Javouhey was too abolitionist for the Catholics, she was too Catholic for the abolitionists, whose vision of slave emancipation did not include a commitment to Christian renewal.
In the long French encounter with Africans, Mana demonstrated the creativity possible at the margins of empire. Notes I would like to thank the Soeurs de St-Joseph de Cluny, for access to their archives, and their late archivist, Soeur Yves LeGoff, for her welcome and assistance. This research was originally funded by the Spencer Foundation as well as a Fulbright Research Grant to France. I would also like to thank Kevin J. Callahan, Stephen L. Harp, and my colleagues in the faculty colloquium at San Francisco State University, for reading a draft of the essay and providing many insightful comments and useful suggestions for revision.
Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams