The Rose of Martinique by Andrea Stuart - review by Jessica Mann

Jessica Mann

Everybody Loved Her

The Rose of Martinique

By

Macmillan 464pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE has already been the subject of nearly sixty biographies, not to mention countless historical novels, and Andrea Stuart makes no claim to have unearthed new facts. But she makes the story exciting and touching, and her original take on its heroine's life is derived from a sense of personal identification. Both women were descended from plantation dynasties, born in the Caribbean, brought in mid-adolescence to the old world and forced to find their own way of surviving in a terrifyingly unfamiliar society. Joséphine (always referred to here by her original name, Rose) is portrayed as an immigrant whose survival in a foreign society during dangerous times depended on her developing feminine wiles and self-protective cunning.

Rose grew up in Martinique, where her family owned a sugar plantation and numerous slaves. Andrea Stuart sees no reason to disbelieve the famous story of the sorcerer who foretold (correctly) that Rose's cousin Aimee would be kidnapped by pirates and sold into a seraglio, and would have a lung

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