Book Review:
The Rose of Martinique


By Andrea Stuart

She was a woman who crowned the Napoleonic Era, rising from the daughter of a plantation family to be the wife of a French aristocrat, then becoming a prison inmate, society belle and empress of the greater part of Europe before falling to the wayside as a discarded wife.

Such was the rich and tumultuous life of Marie-Joseph-Rose de Tascher de La Pagerie, also named Rose, but best known to history as Josephine, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Josephine's extraordinary life is examined in minute detail by Andrea Stuart in a rivetting biography The Rose of Martinique, which lives up to all the praise the book has received.

It is written by an author who clearly liked her subject, but this doesn't prevent Stuart from pointing out Josephine's unceasing financial extravagance and her regular dalliances with other men.

Much of Josephine's immodest behaviour was brought about by necessity - having rich lovers helped her survive the French Revolution and its chaotic aftermath - and Stuart's book states plainly that her long-time affair with Hippolyte Charles was not just a casual fling, but he was probably her one true love in life.

Fans of Bonaparte will both smile and frown at a woman who would have preferred to have married General Hoche ahead of the future emperor, who initially did little to fire Josephine's passions.

In fact through much of their marriage Josephine had Napoleon tied around her little finger, driving him to distraction and furious outbursts.

Divorce nearly occurred, but with an unerring knowledge of her husband Josephine managed to cry and wail her way to remaining in his house. Later Napoleon repaid her indiscretions by having numerous affairs with a host of women that seem to have cast him unfairly as the disloyal party in the marriage.

But Josephine was more than Bonaparte's wife, she was an invaluable partner whose intelligence and social skills moved the young general further up the ladder than his undoubted military skills would have got him.

She had enemies - but mainly the Bonaparte family itself - which was jealous over the hold she had on Napoleon.

Throughout her many difficulties Josephine, however, seemed to remain sweet and almost all who met her were entranced by her style, gentleness and manner.

The Rose of Martinique is one of the best biographies written about a Napoleonic figure and it paints a rich and colourful portrait of the lady and her times.


- Richard Moore

Napoleon Bonaparte
Career Portraits
Quotes Family
Loves Letters
Plots Murdered?
His will Places
Era of Napoleon
Powers Opponents
Coalitions Allies
People Timelines
Key sites Shrapnel
Campaigns Battles
Armies Generals
Marshals Winners
Glossary Medical
Weapons 1812 War
Uniforms Battlefields
War at Sea
Naval War Heroes
Artworks Signals
Nelson Trafalgar
Key Maps Peninsula
Animated 1796/1800
1809 Russia
French Revolution
Revolution Guillotine
Posters People
Art, Film, Games
Education Goya
Sharpe Hornblower
Books Movies
DVDs Music
Wargames Images
Cartoons Caricatures
About Us Sources
Awards Sitemap
Links Militaria
Miniatures Reenactors
Forum Quizzes
Home Waterloo Diorama
Copyright Richard Moore 1999-2017 | Privacy Policy | Contact Us