Review: Desiree by Annemarie Selinko

Désirée: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First Love
by Annemarie Selinko

Publication Date:  October 1, 2010
Sourcebooks Publishing

SYNOPSIS:  To be young, in France, and in love: fourteen year old Desiree can't believe her good fortune. Her fiance, a dashing and ambitious Napoleon Bonaparte, is poised for battlefield success, and no longer will she be just a French merchant's daughter. She could not have known the twisting path her role in history would take, nearly breaking her vibrant heart but sweeping her to a life rich in passion and desire.

A love story, but so much more, Désirée explores the landscape of a young heart torn in two, giving readers a compelling true story of an ordinary girl whose unlikely brush with history leads to a throne no one would have expected.

An epic bestseller that has earned both critical acclaim and mass adoration, Désirée is at once a novel of the rise and fall of empires, the blush and fade of love, and the heart and soul of a woman.

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REVIEW: In his memoirs, dictated while he was in exile on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon named his first love as Desiree Clary, a silk merchant’s daughter from Marseilles. In the breathtaking novel simply titled Desiree, author Annemarie Selinko chronicles the life of the woman who was Napoleon’s fiancee, a woman who rose from being a commoner to becoming a wife of a French General to Queen of Sweden and Norway.

Young Desiree
As a little girl Desiree received a diary from her beloved father and through it she narrates her story. Desiree first meets Napoleon through his brother Joseph, who will later become her brother-in-law, and takes a fancy to the young and determined General. Even though their relationship would die young and he would break her heart, Napoleon and Desiree would remain in each other’s lives until his quest for world domination ended in his exile to St. Helena.
Desiree as Queen Desideria of Sweden
Desiree is a mesmerizing look at the rise and fall of Napoleon told from the woman who first held his heart and knew him like no other. It is touching and beautifully written and no historical fiction readers’ library is complete without this exceptional, un-put-down-able novel!

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book from the wonderful publisher for review.



  1. It really fell for this one, it was like historical fiction should be

  2. Sounds amazing! Added to my wishlist :}

  3. I have an interest in Napoleon so will definitely want to read this book. I have not heard much of his early history, so this will fill in a few blanks. Desiree sounds like a fascinating woman.

  4. I haven't read this in forever -- it begs a reread. My mother loved this book -- she read it when a teenager and it shaped her love for all things French -- which she passed on to me!

  5. I quite enjoyed Desiree as well. It was fascinating to learn so much about the time period and such a unique woman. Thanks so much for posting the paintings, it's great to get a chance to see what she looked like!

  6. I am rereading Desiree again, read the book 40 yrs. ago, have been fascinated with Desiree Clary Bernadotte ever since.

    Just love your website also.

  7. It was one of the first books I ever read when I was young in this genre and I loved it, reading the book I lived history! I agree, it's amazing.

    Michael Stolle


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