The Secret Life of Josephine

Napoleon's Bird of Paradise

Carolly Erickson

St. Martin's Press

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The bestselling author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette and The Last Wife of Henry VIII returns with an enchanting novel about one of the most seductive women in history: Josephine Bonaparte, first wife of Napoleon.
Born on the Caribbean island of Martinique, Josephine had an exotic Creole appeal that would ultimately propel her to reign over an empire as wife of the most powerful man in the world.  But her life is a story of ambition and danger, of luck and a ferocious will to survive.  Married young to an arrogant French aristocrat who died during the Terror, Josephine also narrowly missed losing her head to the guillotine.  But her extraordinary charm, sensuality, and natural cunning helped her become mistress to some of the most powerful politicians in post-Revolutionary France.  Soon she had married the much younger General Bonaparte, whose armies garnered France an empire that ran from Europe to Africa and the New World and who crowned himself and his wife Emperor and Empress of France.  He dominated on the battlefield and she presided over the worlds of fashion and glamor.  But Josephine's heart belonged to another man--the mysterious, compelling stranger who had won her as a girl in Martinique.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter 1

That night, the night I first met Scipion du Roure, all I could think of was the ball and my gown of pale yellow silk and the garland of fragrant white flowering jasmine Euphemia had woven into my hair. I hummed as I dressed, practicing walking in the wide skirt on its stiff wire frame and glancing at my reflection in the pier glass that stood in the middle of my bedroom.
My eyes were bright, my skin warm and glowing in the candlelight. I remember thinking, I am beautiful. Every man at the ball will want to dance with me.

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Praise for The Secret Life of Josephine


The Last Wife Of Henry VIII


"Entertaining."--USA Today


"[Erickson] offers a good view of the intrigue and scheming in the court of Henry VIII. Descriptions of court and country life are well done and enrich the story."--Library Journal



The Hidden Diary Of Marie Antoinette


"Writers of historical fiction must tread a fine line between loving one's protagonists while telling the truth about them. Carolly Erickson has executed this balancing act with the same scorching wit and greatheartedness that has always illuminated her biographies. The old 'let them eat cake' myth has once and forever been exploded, yet the author resists the temptation to sentimentalize or simplify the maddeningly complex character of Marie Antoinette.”--Robin Maxwell, author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn and To the Tower Born


“Carolly Erickson turns cold fact to hot fiction in her first historical novel.”--India Edghill, author of Queenmaker and Wisdom's Daughter


 "A fascinating first novel . . . This intimate look at a misunderstood woman by the author of a biography on the same subject is highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Carolly Erickson

Carolly Erickson is the bestselling author of many distinguished works of nonfiction and a series of historical entertainments, blending fact and invention. She lives in Hawaii.

Carolly Erickson

Photo: Brian Reed
Carolly Erickson


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Available Formats and Book Details

The Secret Life of Josephine
Napoleon's Bird of Paradise
Carolly Erickson

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
September 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429918800
ISBN10: 1429918802
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 336 pages

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
August 2008
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312386092
ISBN10: 0312386095
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 352 pages

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St. Martin's Press

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