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Tales Of Passion Tales Of Woe

Tales Of Passion Tales Of Woe

4.6 22
by Sandra Gulland

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Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe is the much-awaited sequel to Sandra Gulland's highly acclaimed first novel, The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

Beginning in Paris in 1796, the saga continues as Josephine awakens to her new life as Mrs. Napoleon Bonaparte. Through her intimate diary entries and Napoleon's impassioned love letters, an


Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe is the much-awaited sequel to Sandra Gulland's highly acclaimed first novel, The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

Beginning in Paris in 1796, the saga continues as Josephine awakens to her new life as Mrs. Napoleon Bonaparte. Through her intimate diary entries and Napoleon's impassioned love letters, an astonishing portrait of an incredible woman emerges. Gulland transports us into the ballrooms and bedrooms of exquisite palaces and onto the blood-soaked fields of Napoleon's campaigns. As Napoleon marches to power, we witness, through Josephine, the political intrigues and personal betrayals — both sexual and psychological — that result in death, ruin, and victory for those closest to her.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Alison Weir author of The Children of Henry VIII An often-moving book that keeps the reader in a happy state of constant anticipation.

Nancy Wigston The Toronto Star Sandra Gulland's second installment of her history of Josephine, Empress of France, is that rare phenomenon: a second novel even better than the first.

Faith Sullivan author of The Cape Ann Shrewd and engaging...moving, entertaining, conscientiously researched, and, yes, fun.

Diane Schoemperlen winner of the 1998 Governor General's Award for Fiction Utterly mesmerizing...a seamless blend of fact and fiction that moves historical fiction to a whole new level.

Merilyn Simonds Montreal Gazette Everything a reader could hope for and more...

Anna Quindlen
"It encompasses the political machinations and the battlefield encounters that made the Emperor famous, Josephine is always at the story's center, utterly devoted to a man who loves her passionately but will eventually prove to love power more."
Library Journal
Gulland continues the saga of Josephine Bonaparte with her marriage to Napoleon in 1796. Although the revolutionary bloodbath has ended, France remains convulsed by political upheaval. Josephine's position depends on her cultivation of those in power and on her husband's military successes. Burdened by mounting debts and harassed by Bonaparte family members intent on destroying her reputation, Josephine survives through shrewdness and charm. Napoleon's adoration often weighs heavy, as when he summons her to join him near remote battlefields. But much of her time is spent waiting in France, especially during his disastrous Egyptian campaign. Told mostly through Josephine's journal entries, this installment is not as compelling as The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, in part because much of the action occurs off stage. However, Gulland continues to integrate historical detail effectively. While this segment may not win the trilogy many new readers, those who enjoyed the first volume will remain intrigued enough to follow Napoleon's path to power in 1800 and to await the rest of the story. For public libraries.--Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Diane Schoemperlen
Utterly mesmerizing...a seamless blend of fact and fiction that moves historical fiction to a whole new level.
—Diane Schoemperlen, author of In the Language of Love
The Toronto Star
Sandra Gulland's scond installment of her history of Josephine, Empress of France, is that rare phenomenon: a second novel better than the first!

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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One: Our Lady of Victories

In which my new life begins

March 10, 1796 — Paris, early morning, grey skies.

I am writing this in my jasmine-scented dressing room, where I might not be discovered by Bonaparte, my husband of one day.

Husband. The word feels foreign on my tongue, as foreign as the maps spread over the dining room table, the sword propped in the corner of my drawing room. As foreign as the man himself.

My face in the glass looks harsh, etched by shadow, reflecting the dark thoughts in my heart.

How unlike me to be melancholy. I'm tempted to black out the words I've just written, tempted to write, instead: I've married, I am happy, all is well. But I've promised myself one thing-to be honest on these pages. However much I am required to dissemble, to flatter and cajole, here I may speak my heart truly. And my heart, in truth, is troubled. I fear I've made a mistake.


Josephine Rose Beauharnais Bonaparte

Josephine Rose Bonaparte

Josephine Tascher Beauharnais Bonaparte

Josephine Beauharnais Bonaparte

Josephine Bonaparte

Citoyenne Josephine Bonaparte

Madame Josephine Bonaparte




2:30 P.M.

We've just returned from Saint-Germain. Bonaparte is in a meeting in the study, and I'm back in my dressing room, seeking solace. It seems that everything is going wrong. Where to begin?

This morning, as I was dusting my face with rice powder, preparing to leave, I saw Bonaparte standing in the door. "The coach is ready." He had a riding crop in his hands and was twisting it, bending it. He was anxious, I knew, about going out to Saint-Germain to see my children at their schools. Certainly, I was uneasy myself. I wasn't sure how Hortense was going to take the news.

"You're not wearing your new jacket?" I asked, putting on a pair of dangling sapphire earrings. I'd changed into a long-sleeved violet gown over a dotted gauze skirt. It was a new ensemble and I was pleased with the effect, but I couldn't decide which shoes to wear — my lace-up boots or my silk slippers, which went so nicely. It had stopped raining but was damp out. The boots would be more practical. "The boots," I told my scullery maid, who pushed one roughly onto my foot. I made a mental note to begin looking for a lady's maid as soon as Bonaparte left for the south.

As soon as Bonaparte left for the south, and life returned to normal.

Today, tonight and then tomorrow, I thought — twenty-eight hours. Twenty-eight hours of frenetic activity, soldiers coming and going, couriers cantering into the courtyard. Twenty-eight hours of chaos. Every surface of my little house is covered with maps, journals, reports, scraps of paper with lists on them of provisions, names, numbers, schedules. Books are stacked on the dining room table, on the escritoire, by my bed. Twenty-eight more hours of his fumbling caresses and embraces. Bonaparte works and reads with intense concentration — oblivious to me, to the servants — and then falls upon me with a ravenous need. Twenty-eight more hours of dazed bewilderment. Who is this man I have married? Will life ever be "normal" again?

"What's wrong with this jacket?" he demanded.

"It needs mending," I said, smoothing the shoulder. The worn grey wool was pulling at the seams and the edges of the cuffs were frayed. I would have it mended, if I could ever get him out of it. If I could ever get him out of it, I might burn it, I thought, kissing his smooth cheek. "And you look so handsome in the new one." The knee-length tails helped detract from his thin legs and gave the impression of height.

He kissed me and grinned. "I'm not changing," he said, tweaking my ear.

It was a slow journey to Saint-Germain — the rain had made the roads muddy — so it was early afternoon by the time our carriage pulled into the courtyard of Hortense's school. I spotted her on the playing field and waved. As soon as she saw us, she dropped the ball and spun on her heels, covering her face with her hands. Was she crying? I touched Bonaparte's arm to distract him, but it was too late — he'd already seen my daughter's reaction. He gazed across the playing field with a sad expression in his grey eyes.

"Something's wrong," I said. I feared what the problem might be.

"I'll wait for you inside." Bonaparte pulled down on the rim of his new general's hat. The felt was rigid yet and it sat high on his big head.

I squeezed his hand, as lovers do. "I won't be long," I promised.

The ground was soft under my feet. I could feel the damp soaking into my thin-soled boots. A spring breeze carried the scent of ploughed fields. I picked my way around the wet spots, reminding myself that Hortense was young. Reminding myself that it was normal for a girl of twelve (almost thirteen) to have a delicate sensibility, especially considering...

Especially considering what she's had to endure. It has been almost two years since the Terror, yet even now my daughter sometimes wakes screaming in the night. Even now she cannot pass the place where her father died without bursting into tears.

My niece Émilie ran to embrace me. "Is Hortense hurt?" I asked. "What's wrong?" My daughter looked so alone, hunched over by the goal post, her back to us.

"She's crying, Auntie," Émilie said, shivering, her hands pushed into the pockets of her plain woollen smock. "It's the hysterics!"

Hysterics? I'd been warned that girls of fourteen were subject to frightful convulsions, but Hortense was not yet of that age. I lifted the hem of my gown and headed toward my weeping daughter.

"Hortense?" I called out, approaching. I could see her shoulders shaking. "Darling — " I reached out and touched her shoulder. Even through my gloves I could feel her bones — the bones of a girl still, not yet the bones of a woman. I considered turning her, but I knew her stubborn strength. Instead, I walked around to face her.

I was startled by the haunted look in her eyes. Pink blotches covered her freckled cheeks, making her eyes seem abnormally blue — her father's eyes. Her father's critical eyes, following me still. I took her cold, bare hand and pressed it to my heart. "What is it, darling?" Thinking how she'd grown in the last year, thinking that she was tall for her age, and that soon she would be as tall as I am, taller perhaps.

"I'm in afraid, Maman." A sob welled up in her.

A gust of wind rustled the leaves. My straw hat flew off my head and dangled down my back by a ribbon. It was not the answer I'd expected. "Of what?"

"That you'll marry him!"

Him: Bonaparte. I tried to speak, but could not. The words stuck in my throat. How could I tell her that the deed had been done, the vows spoken, the contract signed: Bonaparte and I were man and wife. How could I tell her that this man was now her father — for better or for worse, for ever and ever. "Hortense, General Bonaparte is a kind man," I said, reprimanding her gently. "He cares for you sincerely."

"I don't care! I don't care for him." Then she hung her head, seeing the stricken look in my eyes. "I'm sorry, Maman!" She took a big breath and exhaled, blowing her cheeks out like a balloon.

I folded her in my arms. "I have to go back. Are you going to be all right?" I felt her nod against my chest. I stroked her soft golden curls. She would need time. We all would. "I'd like you and Eugène to come to Fontainebleau with me next weekend, to see Aunt Désirée and the Marquis," I said, swaying like a mother with an infant in her arms again, lulling her baby to sleep. I felt a thickening in my throat as I recalled the feel of her at birth, her tiny skull, her piercing cry. It is going to be all right, I wanted to tell her. (I want to believe it myself.) "Can you come next weekend?" Bonaparte would be gone by then.

The weathered door to the school creaked on its hinges, startling a maid who was perched on a stepladder washing the crystal candelabra. I heard Bonaparte's voice, his lecturing tone. I knocked on the door to the headmistress's study.

Madame Campan was seated behind her enormous pedestal desk covered with books and stacks of paper. The small room was furnished in the style of the Ancien Régime, ornate, musty and dark. A vase of silk lilies had been placed under the portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette. Two years ago Madame Campan would have lost her life for showing sympathy for the Queen.

The prim headmistress motioned me in without taking her eyes off her guest. Bonaparte was perched on the edge of a puce Louis XV armchair, holding a teacup and expounding on the uselessness of girls learning Latin. His saucer was swamped — with coffee, I guessed, to judge by the aroma.

When he paused to take a breath, Madame Campan stood to greet me, smoothing the skirt of her gown. Dressed in black, she could have been taken for a maid but for the intricate beaded trim of the head scarf she wore, as if in perpetual mourning. "Forgive me for interrupting," I said, taking the chair beside Bonaparte. He searched my eyes for a clue. This was an awkward situation for him, I knew, a difficult situation for us both. Things were not going according to plan.

"General Bonaparte and I have been discussing education in a Republican society," Madame Campan said, pulling her head scarf forward. "It isn't often one meets a man who has given this matter thought."

I removed my gloves, tugging on each fingertip. My new gold betrothal ring caught the light. I put my hand over it and said, "General Bonaparte is a philosopher at heart, Madame Campan. He gives all matters thought." I offered Bonaparte a conciliatory little smile.

Bonaparte emptied his teacup and put the cup and saucer on the side table between us. I reached out to keep the table from tipping. "It's late," he told me, pulling out his pocket-watch. "Aren't you going to tell her?"

"Yes," I said, flushing, seeing him through a stranger's eyes: a short, thin man with a sallow complexion, lank hair, shabby attire. A coarse-spoken man with poor manners. An intense, humourless man with fiery eyes — a Corsican, a Revolutionary, an opportunist. My husband. "We have an announcement to make," I told Madame Campan.

Only my closest friends knew that we'd married. I wasn't looking forward to informing my family — nor my acquaintances, for that matter, many of whom would be condescending, I feared, in spite of Bonaparte's recent promotion to General-in-Chief of the Army of Italy. The genteel world would silently judge that I had married beneath me. It would be said that as a widow with two children to educate and place in the world, as an aristocrat without fortune, and indeed, as a woman over the age of thirty, I was desperate. "I — that is, General Bonaparte and I — have married." I took my husband's hand; it was as damp as my own.

Madame Campan sat back abruptly, as if pushed. "Why...that's marvellous," she said, with the appearance of sincerity. "What a surprise. But that's marvellous," she repeated. "When?"

"Twenty after ten last night," Bonaparte said, drumming his nails on the arm of his chair. "Twenty-two minutes after, to be exact."

"Well." Madame Campan made a small, dry cough into her fist. "Your children have been very good at keeping this secret, Madame...Bonaparte, is it now?" I nodded, grieved to hear my new name spoken, grieved to be giving up the lovely and distinguished name of Beauharnais. "No doubt Hortense and Eugène are...?" She held out her hands, palms up.

I felt my cheeks becoming heated. "That seems to be the problem. General Bonaparte and I came out to Saint-Germain today with the intention of telling my children, but..." I tried to swallow.

Madame Campan leaned forward over her desk, her hands tightly clasped. "Hortense does not know?"

"We were going to tell her just now, but she was upset, so I didn't think it wise."

"She was crying," Bonaparte said, shifting his weight.

"How curious," Madame Campan said. "She was so cheerful this morning at breakfast. Do you know why?"

How could I explain without offending Bonaparte? "Perhaps she didn't like seeing me on a man's arm," I said, stretching the truth only a little. "She's so attached to the memory of her father, as you know."

"Oh dear, yes, I see. Your daughter is...sensitive." She spoke the word with deliberate care, pressing her hands to her chin in an attitude of prayer. "She feels everything so strongly! Which is why she is gifted in the theatrical arts, I believe, and in the arts in general. She is, as I have often told you, my favourite student." She paused. "May I make a suggestion?"

"Please do! I confess I'm at a loss."

"Perhaps if I told her? Sometimes it's better that way. I could talk to both Hortense and Eugène together."

I glanced at Bonaparte. It was a coward's solution, I knew, but a solution nonetheless. "Good," Bonaparte said, standing.

After, Bonaparte and I stood silently on the bottom stone step of the school, waiting for my coach. "I guess, under the circumstances, we should consider whether or not to visit Eugène now," I said finally, looking out over the fields to Eugène's school next door. On the one hand, I hated not to see him; on the other, I owed four months' tuition. "He's not expecting us," I said, as my carriage creaked to a stop in front of us.

"Back to Paris," Bonaparte told my coachman, opening the carriage door himself. "I approve of Campan's approach," he said, climbing in after me. "She's educated, but she's not a bluestocking. And she's not proud either. I thought she was lady-in-waiting to the Queen."

The carriage pulled through the school gates. I nodded apologetically to the beggarwoman sitting in the dirt with her infant at her breast; usually I had something for her. "She was," I said, tightening my hat strings. Madame Campan had practically been raised at court. "She was in the Tuileries Palace with the royal family when it was ransacked. A man from Marseille grabbed her and was going to kill her, but someone yelled that they didn't kill women and that saved her."

"She was lucky. I approve that the girls learn to make soup and have to tidy their rooms themselves. I'll enrol my younger sisters."

Bonaparte has four brothers and three sisters — my family now. "Your sisters who are living in Marseille with your mother?" In town now, we were passing the castle, a ruin, like so many.

"I'm going to move them all to Paris."

"That would be lovely," I said, smiling in spite of a pain in my side,

"How much does Campan charge?"

"For the year? Three thousand francs."

"That's ridiculous," he said, opening a book he'd been reading on the way down, the life of Alexandre the Great.

"Eugène's school is even more." And I was paying for my niece Òmilie's tuition as well — or trying to. It had been a long time since I'd had any income from home. My coachman cracked his whip. I let my head fall back against the tufted upholstered seat and closed my eyes, the memory of Hortense's tears coming back to me.

"Not feeling well?"

"I'm fine," I lied.

Copyright © 1998 by Sandra Gulland

Meet the Author

Sandra Gulland is the author of Mistress of the Sun; The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe; and The Last Great Dance on Earth. She lives in Killaloe, Ontario, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

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Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
EVKendall More than 1 year ago
This book is the sequel to The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. In the first book Rose (Josephine) is a girl and the story follows her life up to the point where she marries Napoleon Bonaparte. In this book Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, it picks up right after her marriage to Captain Bonaparte. The transition between the two novels was seamless and I was able to get right back into the story. These books depict Josephine in quite a different light than historically accepted theories of her character which I found intriguing. I learned a great deal about French history and culture of the time. I enjoyed the story very much and plan to download the next book in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have become totally interested in the French Revolution because of this book and Gulland's previous. I can't get enough and am anxiously awaiting the next in the trilogy. I found this book every bit as compelling as the first and read it in 4days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all three books in this trilogy more than once. They were immensely entertaining and accurate as well. Rose is one of the most interesting women of history and Sandra Gulland she's a terrific job making her accessible.
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luv2readSM More than 1 year ago
I have never read about the French Revolution and these books brought it to life. I was enthralled from the beginning to end. Very heart wrenching and passionate.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As with all of them, I found myself like a silly child hiding under the blankets with a flashlight reading until late into the night. (I really need to finally get that book light.) The writing style in diary form is great, because it breaks the story up. This allows you to walk away and go on about your life easily and pick it back up, should you be able to tear yourself away form the story!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book couldn't put it down
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book over a year ago and the feelings it brought out in me remain as strong today. I have such happy memories when I think of this book. What a great thing it is to read a book that evokes such feeling. I never knew much about Josephine Bonaparte and even though this is fiction it felt like 'Of course this is how she must have lived!' A good book will make you believe that it had to be that way! Open up this novel 'and the other two books of this series' and live with Josephine! Beautifully written! This time comes to life the characters live through the pages I saw and felt and breathed with Josephine. Her love was felt, her tears stung. I cried with her I laughed and I loved with her. All three books, one was as good as the other! I love learning bits and pieces of history especially when it is woven through so beautifully in a fictional tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a little hesitate to read this book at first, since I had not read the first book. I was wrong, this was a great read, it kept my attention, now I want to read the first book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This one of my favorite series. The author transports you into late 18th Century France, and lets you see the world through Josephines eyes. You walk with her through the streets of paris and are revealed to a side of her unknown to most. You watch as she interacts with top political officals, stands with husband as he rises to glory, and her sameful acts as a conspirator. Josephine is a heorine as she works tirelessly to save the poor and less fortunate, at the same is overwhelmed with her sudden popularity. She, like every woman, falls in and out of lover, and you experience the trials of her relationship with Bonaparte. A wonderful book and a must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The second book in this awesome series. I absolutely was glued and riveted! I could not stop reading, Josephine is magnificent and fascinating character and you will love her, I do!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sandra Gulland certainly exceeded my expectations with this second installment of the Josephine B. trilogy. While painting France in its revolutionary stage, Gulland continues through the hardships and high points of Josephine Bonaparte's life with the ever-demanding Napoleon. The book highlights the transitional period of Rose Beuharnais, widow to Josephine, wife of Napoleon, future empress of France. Love, hate and characters flow through the story while rumors swirl and life changes for the Bonaparte family. With letters, diary entries, and key points, the story is riveting and emotional in such a way that leaves the reader jumping to the third novel to find out dear Josephine¿s fate. It is a must read for all historical fiction fans! The novel will never leave your hands until the turn of the last page! It is a must read for all historical fiction fans!