Becoming Josephine, by debut author Heather Webb, is a delectable story of engaging characters and dripping emotional turmoil. It’s the story of a woman who does whatever it takes to rise from her wealthy plantation roots, though wrought with dirty dress hems, to the wife a citified noble caught up in revolutionary French politics who ultimately helped usher in a new age for France.
I was entranced by the lyrical and eloquent prose of Webb as I read of Rose’s life before she became Josephine and Napoleon’s wife. Reading about her first marriage, her relationships with her husband’s family, her children, and her fight for survival in a French prison, made me amazed and spellbound by her strength and determination. Her emotional fortitude gave me pause and made me look internally at my own heart. Her forgiving nature, her desire to know love, and her intrinsic nature to always want to please others was evident in Webb’s characterization. Once she was married to Napoleon, who was mad with love for her, the second half of her life really began to evolve.
I liked how Webb solely focused on Josephine in the novel. Her beginning, her average years, and her self-discovery of her failures, her successes, her desires, and then finally, her own heart. Webb shows us a new version of the woman who became Napoleon’s wife, while also writing him into the book as a well-developed supporting character. From the research I’ve done in the past on Napoleon, she took his so-called faults and negative attributes and shows us an emotional connection to them.
This book is historical in time period, but not history heavy. Webb makes her novel by capitalizing on the emotional changes within Josephine. The writing is light and beautiful and the pages swiftly turn by as if on their own. Before I knew it, I had completed it and wanted more. This book is not for the historical epic novel lover, but for the historical fiction reader who enjoys storytelling of women coming into their own that is set within the past. Her lavish details set an amazing visual scene, whether completely accurate or not, and create a longing in our minds. By the end, when Napoleon divorced Josephine, I was in tears and wanting to scream for her loss.
I believe that Webb takes on the social issue in history, and sometimes still today, of women who were able to create themselves under the shadow of a man. Women who chose to remain true to themselves and their dreams, quite independent and individualized, while under the strict finger of a male dominated society and marriage are tremendous role models for us today. I was happy to see that Josephine made her way with her own businesses and survival methods for money at a time that was just post-Marie Antoinette when pageantry was killed by the French Revolution. She was carefree and open at a time when most women struggled to define themselves beyond the realm of the height of their hair or dress or husband.
Becoming Josephine is an enchanting novel that entertains, delights, and is quite the vacation of the mind. I ate it up as lavishly as I might honey-dripped sweets. I most certainly applaud Webb on her delightful foray into fiction.
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Becoming Josephine, Synopsis~
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 roll.
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 JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.
Praise for Becoming Josephine~
“Heather Webb’s epic novel captivates from its opening in a turbulent plantation society in the Caribbean, to the dramatic rise of one of France’s most fascinating women: Josephine Bonaparte. 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
“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
“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
“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)
Author Heather Webb, Biography~
She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing.
When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/becomingjosephinetour
Twitter Hashtag: #BecomingJosephineTour