Wednesday, November 17, 2010
A woman can usually get what she wants from a man if she has a well-developed figure. So I've decided to stuff four handkerchiefs into the front of my dress tomorrow; then I shall look really grown up. Actually I am grown up already, but nobody else knows that, and I don't altogether look it.
For the right reader, Desiree may satisfy. But at over six hundred pages, it didn't quite work for me. I found it to be a bit uneven. There were places where it held my interest, but, unfortunately, there were more places where it didn't.
It follows the life of a young girl, Eugenie Desiree Clary, who happened to be the "first love" of Napoleon Bonaparte. Their engagement was broken--not her choice, by the way--when he married Josephine. Awkwardly enough--at least at times--the two remained connected through the years for her sister, Julie, had married his brother, Joseph.
Charles XIV John.
I found Desiree to be tedious in many places. As it follows the rise and fall of Napoleon. As it follows her marriage--many of which she was separated from her husband either by choice or necessity--through the decades. There were places where it worked. Places where it seemed personal, genuine. But, for the most part, I felt disconnected from Desiree as a narrator. The novel is "her diary." That is how it is presented at any rate. But. After her first disappointment with love, after her marriage, the "diary" becomes more a brief and uneven record of political and social struggles she faced as her husband fell in and out of favor with Napoleon.
Desiree was not a romance--at least not a traditional romance. Yes, the first part of the novel sees a young woman in love with love, in love with an ambitious nobody with a strange name. But the rest of the novel? Not a romance. Instead, it's a detailed account of turbulent years in France. I did not find that account particularly compelling. But maybe I'm not the right reader for this one!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews