Great Books. The Top Ten – instalment 5. Désirée

I first read Anne Marie Selinko’s Désirée when I was 13, which was probably the best moment in my life to read that book. A history lesson in the shape of a romance – what’s not to love when you’re a nerdy teenager who had been obsessed with the French Revolution and its aftermath for several years already at the time.

The story takes off when Désirée is a teenager herself with all the troubles of that tender age in this case only with Napoleon Bonaparte acting the part of the older, cooler heart throb that any of today’s highschools would have several of – think Edward Cullen… Soon enough Bonaparte is off with Joséphine and enter the selfmade man Jean Baptiste Bernadotte whom our heroine marries as soon as she has wiped her youthfull tears in his impressive epaulettes. Bernadotte eventually becomes the king of Sweden and founder, together with our Désirée, of today’s Swedish royal family. The strangeness of that how all that happened in war ridden Europe of course deserves a novel and Selinko’s bid is not half bad.

It’s been some time since I read it, but I would recommend it to any teenage girl. It’s not too silly and has great romance, wonderful dresses, manly men, some humour and a peek at some of the most interesting events in European history. This is one of the good, bad books.


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