Celebrating Josephine

Josephine's tomb, with rose, fixed

Today—Thursday, June 24th—is the bicentennial anniversary of Josephine’s death, 200 years ago. Special exhibits have been shown in Paris, and there will be a very special event at Malmaison, no doubt. In the past, Malmaison has marked this day with a concert of classical music in the Music room. I was told by the former curator that invariably, a sudden chill would sweep through the room—Josephine’s spirit, he was convinced, for it happened every time, in spite of the summer heat. This is one time that I ache to be there. All this week, I’ve been posting to a new Pinterest board I created for the occasion: “Celebrating Josephine.” In honour of the bicentennial, Touchstone (of Simon & Schuster)— the U.S. publisher of the Josephine B. Trilogy—has designed new covers for the ebook editions.

 Many Lives and Secret Sorrows  Tales of Passion 5.22  Jacques-Louis David Le Sacre de Napoleon - The Coronation of Napoleon retail 1805 - 1807 XIX th Century French school Louvre Mus





I’m thrilled! I love these new designs.

A belated newsletter announcement, an ebook special, plus this ‘n that


I sent out a newsletter on the 1st of the month, in time for Groundhog’s Day (or Candelaria in my winter part of the world). If you’re not on the subscriber list, you may read “On groundhogs, duets & lists” here.

I’m happy to see that the ebook special for The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. is still on: under $2.00. (I was told that it would end February 2, so I’m pleased.)

I’m in the habit of emailing myself articles to later note on this blog. My inbox has gotten way out of hand, so I’m going to clip away at it from the bottom up. Here is one note I’ve long wanted to share:

Leslie Fulton, who writes the delightful blog Pepy’s Wife, has filled out a book survey and I was  very pleased to see that Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe was her answer to the question, “Best sequel ever,” and further, that she described the Trilogy as a tour de force. (Go, Josephine!) (And thank you, Leslie!)

I love to see Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe singled out: a difficult middle child of the Trilogy, it was a challenge to write. Bestselling author Anna Quindlen recently listed it as one of her top 5 favourite love stories. (Sigh.)

I’m so busy! Writing the 2nd draft of The Game of Hope (working title of the first Hortense YA novel), preparing for publication of The Shadow Queen (soon!), a winter round of ailments, website renovation, etc. etc. etc. Where does time go? Please forgive me for not showing up here more often. Hang in!

The Casting Game! (The results are in.)

In my November newsletter, I announced that a television drama series based on the Josephine B. Trilogy was in the works, inviting readers to play “The Casting Game.” They responded with great suggestions!

Johnny Depp

Nancy Russell suggested Johnny Depp for Napoleon. Sister-out-law Wendy Milne said that a number of women would be happy if Depp played Napoleon, and according to Lee LaFont, he is short enough.

Nancy Russell also suggested Angelina Jolie for Josephine.

Angelina Jolie

Paul Headrick suggested I use pull to get the role of Josephine myself. (I’m told that “Snerk!” is not a word, but I bet you know what I mean.)

Fran Murphy suggested “smoldering beauty” Sophie LaFont as Josephine. (Sophie, I can feel you blushing and smoldering from here!)

Brad Pitt

Marnie Mackay suggested Brad Pitt and felt that Johnny Depp was a bit too cute. Brad can do anything, she notes, and he might also be short.

Jordy Lievers

Sue Lievers would like to see her daughter Jordy as Josephine.
Jordy, an actor, studied French for six years and lived in Paris.

David Strathairn

Interior designer Bonnie Sachs suggested that David Straithern would make a wonderful Napoleon (unless he’s too old, she noted).

Jessica Chastain

Novelist Roberta Rich suggests Jessica Chastain (above) for Josephine, but conceded that Napoleon was more of a challenge. (Yes!)

Thomas Hardy

Another novelist, Lauren Davis, suggests Thomas Hardy (above) for Napoleon.

Patrick Dempsey 2

Debbie Pollock’s picks for Napoleon are Brad Pitt (Brad again!), Mark Ruffalo, Chris Pine, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, John Stamos and Eric Bana—with Patrick Dempsey the favourite (above).

Kate Winslet

For Josephine, she suggests Emily Blunt, Jennifer Connelly, Kate Winslet, Julia Stiles, Hilary Swank and Natalie Portman, with favour going to the ever-graceful Kate Winslet (above), a suggestion son Chet Gulland seconds.

Toni Colette

Soon-to-be-son-in-law Bruce Sudds suggests the great character actor Toni Colette for Josephine (such eyes!), and another great actor Ed Norton for Napoleon (below). Thumbs up from Chet on that one too.

Ed Norton

Victoria Sorenson (shown below, before attending a ball at Versailles) is a direct descendent of Josephine. She has had wide theatrical experience and would love a chance to audition for a role.


Ivy in Germany  would like to see Astrid Berges-Frisbey as the young, grown-up Hortense (a lovely suggestion, I think) …

Astrid Berges-Frisbey

and could very well imagine Olivia Williams (below) as “late” Joséphine.

Olivia Williams

Marie suggests either Marion Cotillard or Charlize Theron for Josephine (below) …

Marion Cotillard

Charlize Theron

and Joe Pesci or Javier Bardem (who is 5’7″) as Napoleon.

Joe Pesci

Javier Bardem

Stephen Solomans has cast Kevin Spacey and maybe Giovanni Ribisi as the younger Napoleon. (I am struck by how much alike they look.)

Kevin Spacey

Giovanni Ribisi

Helena Bonham Carter

Joanne Zomers feels that Helena Bonham Carter (above) would make a fine Josephine. “And how about the producer Kelsey Grammer as Napoleon?”

Kelsy Grammer

Now there’s a thought!

My NEWS: a Josephine B. television mini-series!

For those of you not on my newsletter emailing: here it is: http://bit.ly/11keASw

The response has been amazing: I answered over 70 congratulatory emails yesterday. There are more today (plus Tweets, plus Facebook comments).

But before I return to my inbox, I want to post the first email I opened this morning: 

A friend, knowing my love for your books and consequently, Josephine, sent me this [newsletter news] via Facebook.

Almost a decade ago, I read your trilogy which excited a passion for Josephine and anything related. Read every book I could find on Napoleon, his family, the French Revolution, etc. a year later the Josephine exhibit came to my state, Louisiana. I drove to Baton Rouge from my city, Shreveport, several times and met mutually interested friends to be so close to this history.

Two years ago, my husband sent me and a friend on a long-standing dream to celebrate my 40th birthday in Paris. On my birthday, we visited Malmaison. Our private tour guide, Isabella, was precious and as she would begin to elaborate on any history, I would finish her sentences. She finally stated I could be the tour guide! 

Interestingly, I just received a gift from a friend, a book about Josephine. And then this news arrived today of your mini-series! Yay! Look forward to following this journey with you!

I love it when readers are sparked to go deeper into the research, and I especially love it when they make the journey to lovely Malmaison! 

Now: back to the inbox, and—hopefully—at some point today, back to the final revision of In the Service of the Shadow Queen.  Good news can be so diverting! 

In search of Josephine … and youth

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.