Image of The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise


Image of The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise

Following the success of
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, Erickson turns her attention to Josephine, Napoleon's Bird of Paradise. Having already written a biography of Josephine, she cleverly presents a first-person account of the provocative beauty's life. History comes to life, and a remarkable woman takes center stage thanks to Erickson's amazing talents.

Born on the island of Martinique, Josephine is an exotic beauty who attracts male attention -- which is why her father arranges her marriage to a distant relative in Paris. But her happiness is shattered on her wedding night when her husband introduces her to his mistress and child.

She begins an affair of her own that lasts through the revolution and Reign of Terror, and uses her wit and charm to escape the guillotine and gain powerful friends, including Bonaparte. Though not in love, she marries him, and it's a marriage is fraught with hostility. Even being a mother and a crowned empress cannot ease the pain. After their divorce, Josephine seizes the opportunity to orchestrate his downfall when she follows him to Russia, maintaining her reputation as a grand seductress. (St. Martin's, Sep., 328 pp., $24.95)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin