The Game of Hope

      Sandra Gulland
The Game of Hope

For Napoleon's stepdaughter, nothing is simple - especially love.
Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom have suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother's dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother, Josephine, has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense at the outset as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror.
Where will Hortense's future lie? it may not be in her power to decide.
Inspired by Hortense's real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of life long ago, this is the story of a girl destined by fate to play a role she didn't choose.

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    The Josephine B. Trilogy

      Sandra Gulland
The Josephine B. Trilogy

The Josephine B. Trilogy comprises three acclaimed, bestselling novels that draw the reader into the delicate yet passionate relationship between Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte: The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe; and The Last Great Dance on Earth. Together they form an irresistible epic, tracing Josephine’s transformation from impressionable young girl to canny and compassionate wife, to confidante empress and one of the most sophisticated and powerful women in history. Adored by readers of historical fiction, the Josephine novels are a sweeping tale of love and loss, political intrigue and revolution during one of the most tumultuous periods in European history.


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    The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

      Sandra Gulland
The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

In this first of three books inspired by the life of Josephine Bonaparte, Sandra Gulland has created a novel of immense and magical proportions. We meet Josephine in the exotic and lush Martinico, where an old island woman predicts that one day she will be queen. The journey from the remote village of her birth to the height of European elegance is long, but Josephine's fortune proves to be true. By way of fictionalized diary entries, we traverse her early years as she marries her one true love, bears his children, and is left betrayed, widowed, and penniless. It is Josephine's extraordinary charm, cunning, and will to survive that catapults her to the heart of society, where she meets Napoleon, whose destiny will prove to be irrevocably intertwined with hers.

Amazon.com Review

Since completing high school history, few of us have managed to keep straight the details of the French Revolution. Beyond suggestions of eating cake and the effectiveness of the guillotine, this sordid time period has remained--for many--somewhat obscure. Now, through the novel The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., not only do we learn of the many differences between Robespierre and Rousseau, but we gain insight into the marriage of one of history's greatest political couples: Napoleon and Josephine.

Standing beside the charismatic Napoleon, Josephine's own importance and fascinating history have often been overshadowed. In a fictionalized account of Josephine's diaries and her correspondence, author Sandra Gulland has shed light on Josephine's pre-Napoleon life. This, the first of three books about Josephine, covers her childhood in Martinique, her first marriage, the birth of her children, her life during the revolution, and her marriage to Napoleon.

A poor Creole outsider as well as a rising socialite, Josephine experienced both the horrors of imprisonment and the privilege of connections. Utilizing these different perspectives, Gulland takes special care to bring forth the reality of life in late 18th-century France. Though she can only theorize on Josephine's emotions and desires, Gulland's talented writing and the restrained use of footnotes keep the reader properly informed on pertinent details, whether they be obscure political events or voodoo beliefs. While professional historians may bristle at the artistic license Gulland employs, most readers will find her novel a satisfying and engaging introduction to this dramatic period. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien

From Library Journal

When Marie-Josephe-Rose Tascher was a girl in Martinique, a voodoo priestess predicted that she would be unhappily married, would then be widowed, and would become queen. With the profits from her father's sugar plantation spent largely on his gambling and drinking, the final prediction seems unlikely. An arranged marriage takes Rose to France, where she finds herself woefully uneducated and unprepared for high society. But in 1779 no one is prepared for the bloody upheaval that will convulse France for years. Rose endures her husband's infidelity and abandonment before his execution leaves her a widow. Combining charm, intelligence, empathy, and luck, she copes with poverty and prison, surviving the revolution with her children. Gulland skillfully re-creates the era's turbulence without confusing readers. A chronology and genealogy provide assistance, and Rose is a character worth caring about and remembering. Her marriage to Napoleon ends this first volume in a projected trilogy, leaving readers eager to know the rest of her story. [First published in Canada as a hardcover, this series is being issued in trade paperback in the United States.AEd.]AKathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., M.
-AKathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., MN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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    The Shadow Queen

      Sandra Gulland
The Shadow Queen

1660, Paris. As the daughter of itinerant actors who once lit up the Parisian stages, Claudette always thought her future lay in the theater. But a series of chance encounters pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of the most beautiful woman in all of France, Athenais de Montespan, the unofficial mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Impetuous by nature, Athenais wields a disconcerting amount of power in court--a fact that has ruffled many of the Sun King's key advisors.

Athenais hires Claudette on as a personal attendant and the young stagehand leaves the world of theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athenais, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin while young courtesans are scheming to take her place in the king's bed. Indeed, Claudette's supposedly respectable position is marked by spying, rumormongering, illicit trysts and titanic...


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    Mistress of the Sun

      Sandra Gulland
Mistress of the Sun

The author of the internationally acclaimed Josephine Bonaparte trilogy returns with another irresistible historical novel, this one based on the life of Louise de la Vallière, who, against all odds, became one of the most mysterious consorts of France's Louis XIV, the charismatic Sun King.

Set against the magnificent decadence of the seventeenth-century French court, Mistress of the Sun begins when an eccentric young Louise falls in love with a wild white stallion and uses ancient magic to tame him. This one desperate action of her youth shadows her throughout her life, changing it in ways she could never imagine.

Unmarriageable, and too poor to join a convent, Louise enters the court of the Sun King, where the king is captivated by her. As their love unfolds, Louise bears Louis four children, is made a duchess, and reigns unrivaled as his official mistress until dangerous intrigue threatens her position at court and in Louis's heart.

A riveting love story with a captivating mystery at its heart, Mistress of the Sun illuminates both the power of true and perfect love and the rash actions we take to capture and tame it.

From Publishers Weekly

As she did for Napoleon's wife (The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.), Gulland skillfully blends fact and fiction to imagine the life of Louise de la Vallière (1644–1710), mistress to Louis XIV, France's Sun King. Louise loses her father early and spends her childhood in a convent run by her aunt, Sister Angelique. When Louise's mother, Françoise, marries a marquis, she takes Louise home, where, by chance, she meets King Louis. As she secures a position at court about 100 pages in, the plot finally begins to bubble with intrigue: the king has married for political reasons, but, as a young and pious man, he has not kept a mistress before Louise. Their secret love eventually comes to light, but not without exacting a price. A supernatural element threaded throughout adds color to Gulland's vivid period imaginings. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In spirit, there was nothing diminutive about Louise de la Valliere, known to her family as “Petite.” A rambunctious girl who could tame the wildest stallion, the impoverished and unmarriageable Petite was also able to tame the heart of the legendary Sun King, Louis XIV. Once she had captured his eye, Petite was quickly ensconced in his court, where, as his mistress, she was elevated to a titled position. Such a meteoric rise was bound to attract attention of the wrong sort, and Petite’s life was filled with the terrors and tragedies that accompany all internecine tales of palace intrigue. Amid rumors of black magic and sorcery, loved ones would die, and Petite herself would ultimately arrive at a crossroads where she would be forced to choose between her loyalty to the king and her own personal salvation. Teeming with the rich period details that make historical fiction so rewarding, Gulland’s dynamic and nuanced portrait of Louis’ notorious reign thrums with page-turning expediency and deliciously seductive machinations. --Carol Haggas


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    The Last Great Dance on Earth

      Sandra Gulland
The Last Great Dance on Earth

The Last Great Dance on Earth is the triumphant final volume of Sandra Gulland's beloved trilogy based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte. When the novel opens, Josephine and Napoleon have been married for four tumultuous years. Napoleon is Josephine's great love, and she his. But their passionate union is troubled from within, as Josephine is unable to produce an heir, and from without, as England makes war against France and Napoleon's Corsican clan makes war against his wife. Through Josephine's heartfelt diary entries, we witness the personal betrayals and political intrigues that will finally drive them apart, culminating in Josephine's greatest tragedy: her divorce from Napoleon and his exile to Elba. The Last Great Dance on Earth is historical fiction on a grand scale and the stirring conclusion to an unforgettable love story.

From Publishers Weekly

Gulland completes her elaborately detailed Josephine Bonaparte trilogy (The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe), taking up the story in 1800 at Paris's Tuileries Palace, where 36-year-old Josephine and her younger husband, Napoleon (who has just become France's First Consul), are desperately trying to conceive. Despite numerous questionable "cures," Josephine remains barren. Her daughter from her first marriage, Hortense, marries Napoleon's brother and produces a son Napoleon wishes to adopt in order to establish a hereditary succession. When this plan fails, advisers claim Napoleon's authority has been weakened. As Napoleon and Josephine rise to power, ultimately being crowned emperor and empress, Gulland does a remarkable job of showing how rumors and disloyalties changed the course of history. Under increasing pressure to produce an heir, Napoleon divorces the heartbroken Josephine, calling the act a noble sacrifice they both must make for the Empire. Napoleon remarries, and a son is born; soon after, he leaves for his unsuccessful invasion of Russia, his last campaign before abdication and exile. Josephine dies shortly thereafter, in 1814, ending her life with thoughts of Napoleon. Florid prose floods the tale, and the diary style of the first-person narrative is limiting, but neither of these problems seriously handicaps the novel. Gulland brings to life an exciting period in Europe's past through the eyes of one of its most famous women. The popularity of the first two installments assures an avid following, but this meticulously researched tale stands alone as a romance of epic proportions. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In the final installment of her acclaimed Josephine Bonaparte trilogy, Gulland chronicles both the marriage of Josephine and Napoleon and the rise and fall of Napoleon's vast empire. Recounted strictly from a woman's point of view, the gripping narrative offers a uniquely feminine perspective on a tumultuous historical era. An active participant in the momentous events of her day, Josephine bears witness to the treachery and political intrigue plaguing her husband's controversial reign. Of course, the passionate, tempestuous relationship between Josephine and Napoleon, two equally remarkable and charismatic individuals, forms the core of this romantic odyssey. A vividly detailed fictional portrait of one of the most fascinating women to influence the course of history. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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