Well, I finally did it. I watched In Search of Josephine, the documentary in which I am one of the “talking heads” featured. And I didn’t die of shame.
In fact, it was fun to watch, bringing back memories of last summer in France as part of the crew.
Watching it was, however, one of those signal moments—that one moment when I had to acknowledge that I am most decidedly in what we so euphemistically call “The Golden Years.” Apparently I’m not getting younger every year.
Aside from the more vain aspects, I should note that it was quite a nice documentary. If you are at all interested in Napoleon and Josephine, I highly recommend it.
I personally loved seeing Andrea Stuart in it, the woman who wrote Josephine, The Rose of Martinique, an excellent biography. When I was with the film crew last summer, I was reading her book to refresh, and I suggested to the producer that he contact her. I’m so glad that worked out. Her contribution is fantastic! It’s hard to imagine the movie without her.
I met Andrea in London when I was still writing the Trilogy. Her own book was not yet out. We met because we were both researching Josephine’s life, both heavily immersed in all-things-Josephine.
It was an explosion of excitement meeting with her: “Don’t you hate Alexandre!” (Josephine’s first husband.) Who else could understand? We both confessed to having a crush on Napoleon, both were furious at how Josephine had been slighted by early biographers. She’d trashed one book in a rage, in fact, a book about Napoleon that didn’t even mention Josephine.
We kept up a correspondence. About the fortuneteller’s prediction that Josephine would become “more than a queen,” I emailed her that I’d read that the prediction had been printed in a journal years before Josephine became empress. I sent her the name of the journal and its date. If she could find a copy of that publication, it would be proof.
She emailed me back days later: “Got it!” Electrifying.
I love the ending of that story. Historical confirmation can be so eerie. And who wonderful about the documentary. I’m glad it felt good to see it.
How exciting! Proof that the fortune was made long before she became Empress! Does she agree that Josephine might not have had an affair when married to Napoleon?
I don’t recall, Rachel. I think she might have leaned more into the “naughty” camp. As for myself, as you know, I simply can’t see it. (Although it’s certainly possible.) I have a strong sense that the ever-so-charming Charles was gay.
When talking with Chevalier during the filming, I asked him: “If you could ask Josephine one question, what would it be?” He said: “What was the nature of her relationship with Captain Charles?” Me too: we want to know! Without a doubt, they were close, but in what way? There is very little evidence: smoke, but no fire.
Dead Sandra, excuse me that I didn’t reply to you immediately. Thanke you very much for your review. So this documentary is “must see” for Josephine’s fun. I’ve already commanded it after reading your post.
The relation Josephine/Charles intrigues me, you know. You know personally I think that they were lovers though of course I have no proofs. But for me the better proof is that Napoleon himself – very intelligent man – believed in it. And he never was a man who allowed to other people (family, friends) manipulate him. He had some doubts about it and he was confirmed in it by various reports.
But of course the Josephine’s letters to Charles are fakes (it’s funny that the serious biographers quote it without even having seen the original letters!) But what is the story of this fake? It was published for the first time in the mid 20 century by Louis Hastier in his work “Le grand amour de Josephine”. I have no doubts that those letters are a mystification. But who is the author of it? And what is the reason of this hoax?
And from what sources come this affirmation? If I remember correctly there are two main sources: the dutchess d’Abrantes memoirs and those of monsieur Hamelin. Laura and her co-author Balzac of course retold gossips. But were these gossips unfounded? As for Hamelin’s memoirs.(“Douze ans de ma vie” if I remember correctly).. If he lied what was the reason to lie after all these years? Perhaps he invented some details but what was his purpose to lie about the very nature of the relationship of Josephine and Charles? Are there any others sources? Madame de Remusat writes too that Josephine completely compromised herself while Bonaparte was absent though she didn’t mentioned Charle’s name.If I remember correctly Bourrienne described that this was Junot who finally told the truth to Napoleon. I never understand the reason for what he decided to do it but I can’t understand his reason to lie too. Louise Compoint of course had this reason. But he who was Napoleon’s closest friend? I don’t believe he was so in love in Louise to lie for avenge his lover – it was just a sexual liason. And according to dutchesse d’Abrantes Pauline Bonaparte by this time had already revealed some true about Charles to her brother. Of course she hated Josephine… But I don’t believe all these people could lie.And did you asked monsieur Chevallier what are the reasons for his doubts? In 1988 when his brilliant “L’imperatrice Josephine” was published for the first time he didn’t have doubts because in this work he clearly affirmed that Charles was Josephine’s lover (though he didn’t dwell on this fact). But by 2002 when he published “Douce et incomarable Josephine” he said that there was no evidence that these gossips were founded. Why did he changed his mind? Did you asked him about it? I can’t find in Internet his contacts but I want to know his opinion. Ooops… What a message. But you know I’am just the person who wants to know the true. You see that I have had my personal research. Please when you’ll have a time don’t forget to post a message about this subject. And about Josephine’s relation with Barras too)))
Greetings from Russia!
Your research is excellent, much sharper than my decades old notes! I’m going to quote you and do what I can to answer your questions now. I can’t promise anything convincing, however! See my research blog …
Sandra, thanke you for appreciating my research! Yes of course I’m waiting for your reponse. And I understand that nobody knows the truth but it’s interesting to know a personal opinion of somebody who is in love with Josephine just like me. Of course “The truth is out there”.
Hi Margot, I finally got a post up in answer to some of your questions. I did not ask Bernard more about his thoughts on Charles. I wish I had!
For me, as a novelist, I just couldn’t get my Josephine to go in that direction. I had assumed that she would: wrong. Once I was in her shoes, feeling what she was going through on a day-by-day basis, it just didn’t feel credible. That’s the problem with fiction: it has to make sense!
That said, I think it certainly possible to make the opposite case. I just want it out there that we can’t really know for sure.
It will be interesting when I venture back into that world from Hortense’s perspective. How will it appear through her eyes? Charles was a good friend of (and only one year older than) Duroc, Hortense’s young love.