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The Queen's Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire

Review

The Queen's Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire

Desiree Clary is a teenager when the French Revolution begins to rip her country apart, turning families and friends into enemies. Even though her family is not hurting financially, they are still impacted and know that every choice they make will be scrutinized as possibly traitorous. When her brother is imprisoned, Desiree and her sister, Julie, go to bail him out. Their mother is willing to part with any sum of money to have her son returned to her. While at the prison, they encounter Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s older brother, who helps Desiree and Julie free him.

Shortly after, Desiree and Napoleon begin a tumultuous relationship, and when Julie marries Joseph, the two families become forever intertwined. Desiree falls deeper in love with Napoleon, and while she knows their life may be difficult, she still says yes when he proposes and agrees to keep it a secret until he can find some financial stability. With Napoleon’s ambitions running high and the Revolution tearing the nation to pieces, Desiree fears that her secret will remain just that as her fiancé takes every risk possible to move up the ranks of the French military.

"Desiree’s story is beautifully told by Allison Pataki... THE QUEEN’S FORTUNE is lavish and wonderful, dreadfully sad at times, and just a fabulous tale to be lost in for hours."

When Julie and Joseph move to Paris to be closer to Napoleon’s rising star, Desiree makes plans to accompany them with the intention of meeting up with her fiancé. Excited to start her life with Napoleon, she goes off to Paris only to be greeted with heartbreak. Napoleon has fallen in love with a socialite of Parisienne society, Josephine de Beauharnais. Her dreams and heart are shattered, but she presses on, determined not to let his betrayal ruin her and to find her place in the city with which she has fallen in love.

Desiree’s life in Paris becomes entangled with the Bonaparte family. Living in Julie and Joseph’s home, she is unable to avoid Napoleon and Josephine or the daily drama of their relationship. She spends her days trying to escape her feelings and bury dreams of a former lover.

When peace finally comes to France, Desiree finds herself among the elite and meets her eventual husband, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon’s generals. As the empire grows, so does the animosity between Bernadotte and Napoleon, putting Desiree in the uncomfortable position of having to side with either her spouse or her emperor.

THE QUEEN’S FORTUNE is opulent, alluring and heartbreaking. Desiree Clary is a footnote in history, the one-time fiancée of a French emperor, and the wife of a king. She is a woman who lived through a revolution, witnessed the dawning of an empire, and lived to become an influential part of history. Desiree’s beauty may have caught Napoleon’s eye initially, and even after he broke off their engagement, he was never willing to truly let her go --- keeping her close at hand as part of the French court, pulling her along with him through history.

Desiree’s story is beautifully told by Allison Pataki, who immerses us in a love story so full of drama and heartbreak that we feel it on every page. I do have a soft spot for historical fiction, especially when it takes place at a French court, and this book did not disappoint --- from the setting to the characters, I was hooked from the start. THE QUEEN’S FORTUNE is lavish and wonderful, dreadfully sad at times, and just a fabulous tale to be lost in for hours.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on December 10, 2019

The Queen's Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire
by Allison Pataki

  • Publication Date: February 11, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0593128184
  • ISBN-13: 9780593128183