Josephine
Kate Williams

Book cover image

Narrated By: Sandra Duncan

Duration: 14 hours and 25 minutes

What to expect

This is the incredible rise and unbelievable fall of a woman whose energy and ambition is often overshadowed by Napoleon’s military might. In this triumphant biography, Kate Williams tells Josephine’s searing story, of sexual obsession, politics and surviving as a woman in a man’s world.

Abandoned in Paris by her aristocratic husband, Josephine's future did not look promising. But while her friends and contemporaries were sent to the guillotine during the Terror that followed the Revolution, she survived prison and emerged as the doyenne of a wildly debauched party scene, surprising everybody when she encouraged the advances of a short, marginalised Corsican soldier, six years her junior.

Josephine, the fabulous hostess and skilled diplomat, was the perfect consort to the ambitious but obnoxious Napoleon. With her by his side, he became the greatest man in Europe, the Supreme Emperor; and she amassed a jewellery box with more diamonds than Marie Antoinette’s. But as his fame grew, Napoleon became increasingly obsessed with his need for an heir and irritated with Josephine’s extravagant spending. The woman who had enchanted France became desperate and jealous. Until, a divorcee aged forty-seven, she was forced to watch from the sidelines as Napoleon and his young bride produced a child.

Genre

Biography: historical, political & military

Listen to a sample

A whirlwind tour of French history.

Telegraph

Williams is the Cole Porter of 18th century history. Her serious and thorough investigation is presented in an accessible and playful way.

The Times

Kate Williams' entrancing biography of Josephine is a sparkling account of this most fallible and endearing of women.

Daily Mail

Scintillating . . . Williams illuminates [Josephine's character] with skill.