How exciting for me to have read BECOMING JOSEPHINE- as it is quite obvious that I have a fascination with this icon (you think?).
Today I am participating in FRANCE BOOK TOURS with a post of my own that includes some photos of when I visited Malmaison, and Petite Malmaison- where Josephine spent most of her time. She so loved entertaining there and caring for her beautiful roses and other flowers. The place is now being inhabited by a Count who was gracious enough to show me around the grounds and house. He also gave me a brief lecture on Josephine's nursery...
The long road from Malmaison, to Petite Malmaison (it's quite the walk- be prepared!)
Here is a little passage to Josephine's private garden in Petite Malmaison (it's darling!!)
Unfortunately the grounds were quite a disappointment... enough so that I believe Josephine would be quite triste to see what has become of Europe's most treasured and unique nursery. As well, the insides are not what I expected - very run down. In any case, I was told that they were working on scheduling many conferences and events, possibly weddings there. I suppose that would help by bringing in business in order to upkeep the place. In any case, here's an original of Napoleon that hangs sad and lonely in the place:
Let me cheer us up with more photos...this time of the very much more elegant Malmaison!
Lastly, I thought you might enjoy this little family tree postcard I picked up at Malmaison as well. It's the Bonaparte family tree...quite the happy-looking bunch, wouldn't you say (not!)...Poor Josephine.
As part of FRANCE BOOK TOURS, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Author, Heather Webb.
1- What prompted you to write about Joséphine?
idea for this novel came to me in two parts. I taught a unit about the French
Revolution in my high school French classes for several years, which sparked my
interest in the time period. Yet despite my teaching, I knew little about
Josephine and I “discovered” her later. Ultimately she was a minor player in a
sea of France’s most famous and infamous people during the Revolution—at least
until Robespierre fell and the Directoire took over the government.
I began to feel the pull to write a book, I had a dream about Josephine.
Strange, but true. From the very first biography I read, I was hooked. Her vivid
childhood home, her adaptable nature and courageous spirit had me enthralled.
Her rich life story set to the backdrop of the chaotic Revolution and the
opulent Napoleonic Empire cinched the deal.
2- From your research, what have you found most fascinating
about Josephine that maybe not everyone is aware of?
There are so many things I love about
Josephine—she was a patron of the arts, an enthusiastic botanist, a fashion
icon, but the most captivating things about her were her adaptable nature and
courageous spirit, as I mentioned before, and her generosity to everyone she
knew. I also enjoyed reading about her tumultuous love affairs! As for a few fun
facts, Josephine had rotted teeth from chewing on sugarcane as a child. I
didn’t reference it much in the novel because as modern readers, I think we
would have a hard time viewing her as beautiful, charming woman with teeth like
that. Also, Josephine had more jewels than any of France’s queens, as she
possessed all of the royal jewels and a smorgasbord of jewelry garnered from the
spoils of Napoleon’s wars.
3-Which modern woman of today's time would you most compare
Wow, this is a tough question. I’m not sure I can think of
one…maybe a hybrid of Michelle Obama and Madonna. Ha! Just the thought makes me
laugh. Perhaps someone more like Angelina Jolie who is beautiful and adored and
does a lot of good for people (yet she has a bit of a reputation as a sex
kitten as well).
4- Please describe the kind of research that you did for
I researched for about
eight months before I wrote a single word, and then I continued to research in
dribs and drabs throughout the entire writing process. I tried to take a
comprehensive approach—biographies of important characters, histories of the
Revolution as well as those of Martinique, Napoleon’s reprinted letters, primary
sources scanned in Google Books, documentaries. I studied art and literature
movements from this period, china patterns, fashion, weapons. I could go on.
Researchitis is a disease we historical fiction writers suffer from.
5- Do you have any advice for aspiring historical fiction
One: If you want to be traditionally published, study the
trends. Walk through a bookstore and see what’s selling. Sometimes the fact
that’s it’s never been done before is a bad thing—it means it won’t sell.
Beware of that. You may want to reevaluate your goals. For the record, I didn’t
do this before I began Becoming Josephine, but I have since.
Two: I read and research widely, which includes travel, but
I am not a historian. I’m a novelist. I grow tired of the constant push and
pull between “he/she’s accurate” or “he/she’s inaccurate”—all of the finger
pointing historical novelists do to each other. My advice to aspiring writers
is to enjoy researching and writing about your topic. Pay attention to detail,
but remember that history is far more fluid than what the “experts” say and
fiction even more so. What you want is to entertain readers, enflame their
imaginations—their hearts! And inspire them to want to read more on a subject.
If you’ve managed to do that, you’ve done your job. Readers can consult the
many nonfiction books on a given topic until their heart’s content, if they so
choose. In other words, don’t get bogged down in every fact and detail. In
fact, you will have people tell you that you’re wrong about a particular point,
even if you taken it straight from a primary source. It’s happened.
6- Please tell us of any future projects you may be working
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much at this time as it’s
still top secret. What I can say is it’s a novel about art, love, and the line
between obsession and madness set to the backdrop of Belle Époque Paris.
THANK YOU Heather!
And the GIVEAWAY CONTINUES!
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You cannot imagine how excited I was to read this book- and when I
finally received it...I could not put it down. Let me begin by saying
that it doesn't matter how many books you've already read on Josephine, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, will bring something new and of interest to you.
Written in the first person, BECOMING JOSEPHINE,
offers an emotional story of Josephine's life, delivered with clarity,
brevity, to the point and so much insight- this book will show you yet
another side of our beloved 18th c. icon- I loved it!
I have to say that right from the beginning, Josephine is presented as
not being the prettiest of the three sisters, and somewhat of a
mischievous and curious young girl- making her so very real and not
unlike a typical dreamy young teen. Seeing her off to Paris to marry
her first husband and all that he put her through...well that's just the
beginning...we all know where the juiciest parts of the story really
All this to say, that no matter if you already know this story- BECOMING JOSEPHINE
is a newer and refreshing take that will please not only seasoned
readers who already know so much about her, but also a younger adult
audience as well. Webb manages to bring us a Josephine that is
understandable and relatable. The Josephine in BECOMING JOSEPHINE
is real and not the passive, flighty dame that history often makes her
out to be. In this book, you read about a business savvy Josephine who
very instrumental in designing her own destiny (Tarot cards aside!).
A quick yet thorough read, BECOMING
JOSEPHINE brings you accurate history delivered in an entertaining and
fulfilling read- sure to please both historical fictionistas and new Jojo
You will love this book- a 2014 MUST!
Please enter your comment and email to participate in order to win this book!
Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade
her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives
exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her
elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes
and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. Through her
savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in
handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to
After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes
prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and
power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a
precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does
she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon
Bonaparte. BECOMING JOSEPHINEis a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.
(SEX & VIOLENCE: There is a little of each, though I didn’t go into
great detail in either category) [provided by the author]
“Webb adds new frisson to the often fictionalized travails
of an unlikely empress…Although the book covers the same ground as many
other treatments of Josephine’s life and times, Webb’s portrayal of the
range of Josephine’s experience—narrow escapes from bloodshed and
disease, dinner-table diplomacy, and her helpless love for Napoleon, her
children and a small dog—is exceptionally concise and colorful. A
worthy fictional primer on Empress Josephine.”KIRKUS
Perfectly balancing history and story, character and setting, detail
and pathos, Becoming Josephine marks a debut as bewitching as its
protagonist.” –Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl
“With vivid characters and rich historical detail, Heather Webb has
portrayed in Josephine a true heroine of great heart, admirable
strength, and inspiring courage whose quest is that of women everywhere:
to find, and claim, oneself.” –Sherry Jones, bestselling author of The Jewel of the Medina
“Josephine’s warmth and complexity comes to vibrant life in this fascinating novel rich with vivid historical detail.”—Teresa Grant, Author of THE PARIS AFFAIR
“Vivid and passionate, Becoming Josephine captures the fiery spirit
of the woman who stole Napoleon’s heart and enchanted an empire. –Susan Spann, author of The Shinobi Mysteries
“A fast-paced, riveting journey, Becoming Josephine captures the
volatile mood of one of the most intense periods of history—libertine
France, Caribbean slave revolts, the French Revolution and the
Napoleonic Wars—from the point of a view of one of its key witnesses,
Josephine Bonaparte.” –Dana Gynther, author of Crossing on the Paris
“Spellbinding . . . Heather Webb’s novel takes us behind the mask of the Josephine we thought we knew.” –Christy English, author of How to Tame a Willful Wife and To Be Queen
“Enchanting prose takes the reader on an unforgettable journey . . .
Captivating young Rose springs from the lush beauty of her family’s
sugar plantation in Martinique to shine in the eighteenth century
elegance of Parisian salon society. When France is torn by revolution,
not even the blood-bathed terror of imprisonment can break her spirit.” –Marci Jefferson, author of Girl on the Gold Coin, Thomas Dunne Books, 2014