Carolly Erickson

Book cover image

Narrated By: Anna Fields

Duration: 13 hours and 6 minutes

What to expect

When, in 1804, Josephine Bonaparte knelt before her husband Napoleon to receive the imperial diadem, few in the vast crowd of onlookers were aware of the dark secrets hidden behind the imperial façade. To her subjects, she appeared to be the most favored woman in France: alluring, wealthy, and with the devoted love of a remarkable husband who was the conqueror of Europe. In actuality, Josephine's life was far darker: her celebrated allure was fading, her wealth was compromised by massive debt, and her marriage was corroded by infidelity and abuse.

Josephine's life story was as turbulent as the age—an era of revolution and social upheaval, frenzied hedonism and the guillotine. With telling psychological depth and compelling literary grace, Carolly Erickson brings the complex, charming, ever-resilient Josephine to life, carrying us along every twist and turn of the empress' often thorny path,from the sensual richness of her childhood in the tropics to her final lonely days at Malmaison.


Biography: historical, political and military, Biography: general, Biography: royalty, Biography: general, Gender studies: women and girls

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“An intimate, richly detailed, and candid portrait.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Carolly Erickson tells [this story] with all the flair it deserves...Exquisite writing.”

Houston Chronicle

“The focus is always on Josephine, whose psychology is discussed at length. Erickson succeeds in making her subject an attractive figure, if hardly an exemplar of moral rectitude.”