The Game of Hope will be published by Penguin Canada on May 1, and Penguin US on June 26, 2018. It’s a Young Adult novel about Josephine Bonaparte’s daughter (and Napoleon’s stepdaughter) Hortense de Beauharnais.

The Game of Hope Media Kit


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The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland

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Sandra Gulland is the author of six historical novels, including the JOSEPHINE B. TRILOGY, based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte, published in seventeen countries. Her latest novel, THE GAME OF HOPE, is a Young Adult novel about Josephine’s daughter.

An American-Canadian, Sandra was born in Miami, Florida, and lived in Rio de Janeiro, Berkeley and Chicago before immigrating to Ontario, Canada in 1970. She and her husband live half the year in Canada and half in Mexico. For more information about the author and her work, go to


(Note: for colorful personal details, go to About.)

Sandra Gulland is the author of six historical novels. Her latest, THE GAME OF HOPE, is a Young Adult about Josephine Bonaparte’s daughter Hortense. It’s the story of a girl mourning her father, executed by guillotine four years before, and having a hard time accepting her stepfather, Napoleon

Gulland’s adult historical, THE SHADOW QUEEN, is set in the French court of the charismatic Sun King and was inspired by the life of Madame de Montespan, official mistress of the king. A previous novel, MISTRESS OF THE SUN, is set in the same time period.

Gulland is best known for the JOSEPHINE B. TRILOGY, internationally best-selling novels based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte. The Trilogy has been published in seventeen countries.

An American-Canadian, Sandra was born in Miami, Florida, and lived in Rio de Janeiro, Berkeley and Chicago before immigrating to Canada in 1970. Settling in Toronto, she worked as a book editor before moving with her husband and two children to a log house in northern Ontario. There, in 1985, she began writing full-time. She and her husband now live half the year in Ontario, and half in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

For more information about the author, her research and her work, go to


Book descriptions



The Game of Hope is the story of lively, creatively-talented Hortense de Beauharnais, the teenage daughter of Josephine Bonaparte, a girl haunted by the violent death of her father, and struggling to come to terms with her mother’s second husband, Napoleon.


Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother’s dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother Josephine has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense as a course, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror.

Where will Hortense’s future lie? It may not be hers to decide.

Inspired by Hortense’s real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, The Game of Hope is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn’t choose.


Blurbs & testimonials

I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve read it twice already! Being a fan of the Josephine B trilogy, I have been anticipating this novel from Ms. Gulland. Her tale about the life of Josephine’s teen aged daughter Hortense and her recovery in the wake of the French Revolution is both realistic and poignant. Room mates, letters home, teenage crushes and innocence brought it to life for me. I especially enjoyed the way the Leonormand Cards were woven throughout the novel. I’ve purchased a deck to play the Game of Hope myself

—Leslie U on Net Galley

Loved this read! It had me hooked! — Chelsea M on NetGalley

Read The Game of Hope and be transported to post-revolution France with the charming, driven and pioneering Hortense de Beauharnais. Hortense is juggling the transition of teenage-hood, striving to be a musical composer and dealing with Napoleon her new stepfather. (What a family dynamic!)

There are handsome crushes, cherished friendships and female achievement.

Sandra Gulland writes with a masterful grasp of history. I love how every time I finish one of her books I have learned so much. The story is replete with fascinating facts and follows Hortense’s real experiences.

Hortense is a heroine in a time when women were relegated to second fiddle. This great historical YA is timely and yet of another time. It has love, boarding school, music, mother daughter struggles and court intrigue. This book shows us how to look to the past and see hope in the future. The Game of Hope is excellent for teenage girls or anyone who loves a great story. 

— Vanessa Van Decker on GoodReads

One of the pleasures of reading historical novels is that the best ones bring alive the past in a way no history book can. The Game of Hope is such a book.

Hortense Beauharnais, age 15, is the daughter of Josephine Bonaparte and step-daughter of Napoleon.

Hortense is a student at a lovely girls’ boarding school outside of Paris, near her mother’s estate Malmaison. A serious, bookish, musical girl, rather prim, plain and straight laced in a school that encourages scholarly interests in girls, Hortense is as unlike her beautiful, extravagant, sensual mother Josephine as it is possible to be.

The novel begins in 1798, four years after the Reign of Terror in France, after the Revolution. The horror and violence of the Reign are still very much part of Hortense and her classmates’ memories. Each of them has been traumatized by the excesses of the Reign through loss of family or parents. Hortense reveres her father who was beheaded during this time although she hardly knew him. She is also critical of her mother whom she loves but considers frivolous and unreliable. As Hortense matures, her views are drastically altered.

I enjoyed this historical novel because it portrayed a convincing picture of France after the Revolution by focussing on an historical figure of whom too little is known. Other characters included members of the Bonaparte family, in particular, Napoleon’s dreadful sister Caroline, and brother Louis. Both were heartily disliked by Hortense.

If accuracy is the ultimate way to show respect to your readers, then Sandra Gulland has succeeded brilliantly. She is a painstaking researcher. Many of the scenes in the novel are based on actual events. She treats us to a number of historical details that bring this fascinating era to life, including Hortense’s musical compositions, letters written by the headmistress of the boarding school, Campan, Hortense’s music teacher, Hyacinthe Jadin.

—Historical novelist, Roberta Rich


Interview questions

  • The Game of Hope is your sixth historical novel based in France. What inspired you to write a Young Adult novel about Josephine’s daughter Hortense?
  • You had been away from the Napoleonic era for over a decade. What was it like going back?
  • What surprised you, writing this novel?
  • What were the biggest challenges?
  • Was Napoleon’s family truly as difficult as portrayed?
  • You touch on a number of “ghostly” happenings throughout the novel. (Do you believe in ghosts?)
  • Why do you think ghostly “entertainment shows” were so popular at that time? Where these really the first horror-picture show?
  • You had teen-age “beta” readers review and critique several drafts. How did that work?
  • Will you continue to write Young Adult?
  • What are you writing now?

Contact details

  • Sandra Gulland: sgulland [at] sandragulland [dot] com
  • Regarding Canadian publicity, contact Evan Munday: emunday [at] penguinrandomhouse [dot] com
  • Regarding publicity in the U.S., contact Jennifer Dee: jdee [at] penguinrandomhouse [dot] com



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