The Academie

( 4 )


Eliza Monroe-daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she's about ...

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The Academie

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Eliza Monroe-daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she's about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.

Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe's imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
During Eliza Monroe and her mother’s year away from Virginia in postrevolutionary France, 14-year-old Eliza is sent (unwillingly) to a boarding school outside Paris, where the daughter of future president James Monroe befriends two celebrated yet conniving young ladies: Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s youngest sister, and Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Joséphine Bonaparte’s first marriage (before she married Napoleon). Caroline and Hortense are enemies, each attempting to use Eliza as their pawn. Caroline is in love with General Murat, while Hortense has feelings for her music teacher as well as Napoleon, her stepfather. Eliza has a crush on Eugène, Hortense’s brother, who has in turn promised himself to Madeleine, the abused daughter of an actress. Eliza becomes trapped in the girls’ schemes, learning the freedom of being ordinary and that love “is a strange and dangerous thing.” Dunlap’s (In the Shadow of the Lamp) intricate plot darts among the first-person narratives of Eliza, Caroline, Hortense, and Madeleine. The elegant work of historical fiction is laced with fluttery romances, psychological games, and surprises. Ages 12–up. Agent: Adam Chromy, Moveable Type Management. (Apr.)
VOYA - Nancy Wallace
Eliza Monroe, the daughter of James Monroe, future president of the United States, reluctantly attends an exclusive boarding school near Paris. She is shocked that one of her fellow students is Napoleon's sister, Caroline, and another is Josephine Bonaparte's daughter, Hortense. The tension between these two celebrities sucks Eliza into a web of intrigue and deception. Unable to decide who to trust, Eliza tries to maintain friendships with both girls, succeeding in becoming a conspirator herself. A fourth girl, Madeleine, the daughter of an actress, falls in love with Hortense's brother, Eugene, only to lose her life in a failed attempt to convince his family to allow them to marry. Set against the backdrop of Napoleon's rise to power, the plot ensnares the characters in political turmoil and changes their lives forever. This novel presents four strong heroines who are not content to allow their families and society to dictate their futures. The girls sneak out of the Academie multiple times, construct uniforms and pose as soldiers in an effort to ferret out clandestine military maneuvers, and fabricate messages to misdirect and expose young lovers. They represent three real women who studied together at Madame Campan's Academie during the turbulent years following the French Revolution. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel has enough conspiracy and suspense to hook most teen readers of historical fiction. It deserves a spot in most young adult collections. Reviewer: Nancy Wallace
VOYA - Mary Kusluch
This story of romance, thrills, and secrecy highlights life's good times and bad times in eighteenth-century France, presenting a stunning sequence of events. For those looking for a book full of surprises, this is a must. Set in Napoleon's time, these girls go through extraordinary days. The sensual, dynamic characters color the book with their light and feeling. Despite the fantastic events they go through, you can relate to each one of them. Reviewer: Mary Kusluch, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
What is it like to live in Paris just a few years after the French Revolution? In this well-crafted historical novel, Dunlap takes readers on a voyage through the rich tapestry of life in post-Revolution France. Madame Campan's Academie Nationale is one of the most prestigious schools in the world, and Eliza Monroe, the daughter of the future president, ends up there in the company of Hortense de Beauharnais, who is the daughter of Josephine Bonaparte, and Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. Soon Eliza is caught up in the riches of Paris, while her father steps up in the ranks of American society across the Atlantic. Eliza spends her time in the company of the most famous women in the world, learning grace, manners, and conversation. By the end of this epic, a girl fulfills her dreams, another girl dies for love, and a girl is forever heartbroken. In this moving story, young readers will step back in time 200 years to post-Revolutionary France. Dunlap creates a rich tapestry of characters and settings in this finely crafted novel. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—This light romance is set in the period following the French Revolution when Napoleon was coming into political power. When 14-year-old Eliza Monroe of Virginia becomes a student at a Parisian finishing school in 1799, she discovers that Napoleon's stepdaughter Hortense and his sister Caroline are among her fellow pupils. Caroline is a calculating charmer who has decided that she is in love with one of Napoleon's generals and sets out to capture his heart. Hortense and her brother Eugene, children of Napoleon's mistress, Josephine, are in love with individuals whom their mother deems unsuitable. Eliza is pulled into dangerous adventures by Caroline, but it is Hortense who becomes a truer, older, and wiser friend to her. All three young women are a curious mix of näiveté and worldliness. Hortense and Caroline realize that they will probably have arranged marriages of convenience, although Caroline is out to change that. However, knowing what their futures may hold doesn't stop them or Eliza from having crushes, which they call falling in love, on young men who may or may not even notice them. The Parisian students also understand that their parents are not faithful to each other, but don't look upon this as a fault. The writing is a bit stilted in a nod to the time period. Students who enjoy historical fiction and period romances will find this to their liking.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Kirkus Reviews
This peculiar hybrid of fact-checked historical fiction and breathless bodice-ripper chronicles the romantic flings of four teens in 1799 France. Eliza Monroe, daughter of future U.S. president James Monroe, arrives at a Paris finishing school where she's befriended by fellow pupils Hortense de Beauharnais (daughter of Joséphine, stepdaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte) and Caroline Bonaparte (sister of Napoleon): beautiful, scheming frenemies. This promising, frothy-but-fun scenario is overshadowed by a less-successful melodrama. Madeleine de Pourtant, secretly engaged to Hortense's brother, is the daughter of Gloriande, a star of the Comédie Française. Formerly enslaved in Martinique, Gloriande--drug-addicted, abusive, mentally unstable, a sexual omnivore discarded by her white aristocratic husband--resurrects the toxic "tragic mulatto" stereotype, as does Madeleine herself. The plot veers unsteadily from accounts of student entertainments, girlish crushes and romantic intrigues to Gloriande's depraved brutality and Madeleine's misery. Throughout, narrators Hortense, Eliza and Madeleine keep the emotional temperature constant, reacting to overheard gossip, the discovery of admirers and General Bonaparte's power plays with the same feverish excitement. Dunlap has clearly done her history homework, but characterization is sketchy and the noisy plot not always credible. Annemarie Selinko's classic historical romance Désirée (1953) offers what's missing: compelling characters who made, and were made by, the world they lived in. Pass. (Historical romance. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599905860
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 2.30 (w) x 4.80 (h) x 18.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Susanne Dunlap graduated from Smith College and later earned a PhD in music history from Yale University. She is the author of two historical novels for adults and three novels for teens: The Musician's Daughter, Anastasia's Secret, and In the Shadow of the Lamp.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 4, 2012

    My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: First off, I'd like to thank th

    My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: First off, I'd like to thank the publisher and netgalley for allowing me to review this novel.

    Secondly, I've only read one other novel by this author and I loved it. This is an author that I definitely recommend to fans of historical fiction. She blends just the right amount of fiction and historical accuracy to create a very compelling read.

    Going into this novel, I wondered if this would live up to my expectations or if I would end up being disappointed. This novel definitely surpassed my expectations and reminded me of why I love this author so much. She has a way with words that leaves you completely entranced by the story.

    My favorite aspect of a Dunlap novel is the characters and their distinct voices. I always feel so connected with the characters and emotionally attached. I cheer for their triumphs, smile when they are happy, and feel tearful when they run into heartbreak.

    Dunlap is an incredible writer whom I am quickly coming to love. Her writing is fresh, compelling, and always sincere.

    I loved the character Eliza. Her naivete was always amusing. And yet, her desire to help other people was something that I admired.

    This novel touched upon issues of race, wealth and class distinctions, and government. And yet it was presented in a neat package that is entertaining and both thought-provoking. Any book that can do that is one I love. I can say with absolutely certainly this won't be the last novel I read by Dunlap.

    In Summary: A very imaginative blend of history and fiction into a novel that I absolutely adored and recommend to all fans of historical young adult fiction.

    Warnings/Side-notes: Nothing comes to mind.

    The Wrap-Up: A novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I'm definitely excited to read more from this author. In fact, this is a novel that I would even reread and consider purchasing.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Académie starts with a good historical premise. Three girls,

    The Académie starts with a good historical premise. Three girls, all related to powerful historical figures, thrown together at a school for young women? It makes you wonder what will happen, especially as the events of the novel take place soon after the French Revolution and right around the time that Napoleon Bonaparte plotted to overthrow the Directoire. Big changes are brewing in France at the same time that the girls play a game of politics with one another, each girl acting with her best interests in mind and guessing at the other girls' motives. It was interesting seeing events take place through the eyes of three very different girls: Eliza and Hortense in addition to Madeleine, the daughter of an actress who will get entangled in the politics of the aristocrats. This has promising potential; however, the novel's set up makes it hard to get into the plot.

    The first-person narrative as told through three different perspective makes it hard to follow events clearly and even more so to relate to the characters. Each girl has her own thoughts and observations, and they see the same people in different lights. They also believe that they know what's best for other characters and will act for other people's "best interests" when their actions really end up hurting them. Just when I thought I had formed my opinion on a character, the narrative would switch to another girl and I would see the aforementioned character in another light. Because the narrative switches perspectives so often, I didn't get to know the girls as well as I would have liked, and sometimes the narrative would replay an event from another person's perspective, which felt redundant despite the new angle the present narrator offered.

    I was very much interested in the politics of the aristocratic world. Initially, Hortense and Caroline exihibit much distaste for one another, something that is no big secret; yet, they must act in a certain manner with each other in public. The novel could have easily explored much more of the intricacies of the nobility. However, rather than focusing on the intrigue and politics of the girls' worlds, the story spends much of its time exploring the girls' romantic interests. The promise of romance is the girls' primary motivation factor. Eliza is interested in Hortense's brother, who loves the actress Madeleine. At the same time, Hortense develops feelings for the musician Michel, and Caroline wishes to marry the general Murat. Love drives the girls to do lose reason and do silly things like dress up as soldiers to go to where they know something big will happen, but not what exactly.

    The plot is slow to unfold. A quarter into the novel, I considered dropping it because it didn't seem like anything was going to happen, though I finally finished the book because I read the last couple pages and wanted to see what happened in between. Not much ended ended up happening. As I mentioned earlier, much of the book is about the girls falling in love, with each girl finding a different resolution. There is joy, there is resignation, and there is tragedy. There is a fair amount of fiction in this novel, but there is also realness in the characters' humanity. While this is far from the best historical fiction that I've read, it is rather light-hearted for the topic that it addresses and may interest readers looking for a light summer read with romance and scandal but nothing a parent wouldn't let a middle-grade student read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review: The Academie

    I love historical fiction and while I've never read anything else by this author, that fact alone was enough for me to want to read it. Sadly this book did not live up to my expectations.

    I was excited about the fact that this contained characters who were connected to some very powerful men. What were their lives like? Maybe I need to remind myself that in all honesty, they are teenage girls. But they came across as so petty and self absorbed in this book. They pay no attention to how their actions affect others. I wondered if their stations in life made them believe that they could do whatever they wanted.

    That being said, they weren't all bad. Eliza had the most potential and I really think she learned to look beyond what was handed to her. She didn't start of the book that way, so I was pleased to see her progression. I was the least able to connect with Hortense. It's almost like she's use to being second to everybody around her so the book takes very little focus on her. I wish it wasn't that way because I think she might have had the most interesting story to tell. I never really warmed up to Caroline. She seemed calculating from the very beginning and I don't think she every changed her colors.

    I enjoyed the political changes throughout this book. While the girls make the change in power seem like a trifle thing, I understand what's really happening. I don't think they fully understood what it all meant (another way they were completely self absorbed). Since it didn't really pertain to them, it didn't really matter.

    I have another one of her books on my shelves and this one makes me hesitant to pick it up. I'm willing to give it a shot since it's a subject that I much more familiar with. I don't regret reading this one, it just wasn't all that I wanted it to be.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013


    This book was so good i need it for my bookshelf

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