December 30, 2010

The Secret Life of Josephine by Carolly Erickson


BOOK #: 60
CHALLENGES: Year of the Historical, New Authors, TwentyTen, 100+ in 2010
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin
FORMAT/PAGES: Paperback/328

My first book by Carolly Erickson, The Secret Life of Josephine is what the author calls a "historical entertainment," meaning "some of this stuff is not even close to true, but Josephine was real." Knowing nothing about Josephine other than this novel, I have no idea which parts are true and which are not other than what Erickson mentioned in the back of the book. But the story was very entertaining.

Josephine Bonaparte was the Empress of France after her husband, Napoleon, appointed himself to the throne following the conquering of most of Europe and the dethroning and executions of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. This is factual.

Born Yeyette on the island of Martinique, Josephine grew up with belief in the native herbs and cures that were practiced by a medicine man who saved her life when she was younger. He told her it was not her time to die, for she had a purpose in life. She had to find the fer-de-lance of the world and kill it.

Erickson's tale of Josephine is full of adventure, romance, love affairs, scandalous behavior, and, of course, war. Erickson endears Josephine Bonaparte to the reader. I wanted to know what happened next in her crazy life. I wanted to know if she was able to kill the fer-de-lance. I wanted to know if her children survived, if she got back with Scipon or Donovan, if she was able to make a difference.

I very much enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to lovers of historical fiction. I will be picking up another Carolly Erickson book, no doubt.

I also have The Many Lives and Sorrows of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland. I wonder how the two will compare.


  1. I appreciate the fact that the author makes no bones about the fact that this is a work of fiction about real people. And that's just a good excuse for research!

  2. I appreciated that, too, Lisa. Plus, I forgot to mention she also has written a factual biography on Josephine, as well.

  3. Oooh this sounds great! I have this on my shelf; definitely going to pull it down to read soon.

    That is awesome how the author characterized her fictional writing of Josephine! Lol, it makes me want to read it all the more :)

  4. I'll be interested in how you think Josephine B. compares. My interpretation of Josephine's history is quite different from Carolly Erickson's. I hope you enjoy both!

    Sandra Gulland


  5. I haven't read this one, but I can vouch for the Secret Diary- love that whole series!

  6. I haven't read Carolly Erickson, so I can't do an actual comparison, but I can tell you that Sandra Gulland's Josephine B books are excellent reads, so you have a treat in store if you do read those.

  7. I like the concept of historical entertainment! It basically seems like the author is saying "I didnt' want to do too much research." : )


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