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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: The Académie

Author: Susanne Dunlap
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
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Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Summary:  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 their lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.  

Why I Loved It:  How could I not?  I love historical fiction, and it's been a long time since I've read one.  There were a lot of pluses in the book for me.  The fact that it took place in France was AWESOME because I love France.  I don't really know much about France from that time.  I have to say that my knowledge of the Bonapartes is very limited which actually lent to the pleasure of the reading experience.  If I know a lot about the time period, the liberties get on my nerves.  Thankfully, I had nothing to fear in this novel.

Now the tone of the novel was set by the sophisticated and fabulously polite words of the time period.  I couldn't help but be swept away in the beautiful language, in the world of high etiquette, and the drama of historical figures that filled the book.  If I may, I'd say this book was Gossip Girl meets the 1800s.  Except if you are looking for the steamy hook-ups and lusty canoodling that come on the CW drama, you should probably look elsewhere.  For lovers of historical fiction, I can assure you that the book is filled with dramatic encounters and ardent love affairs.  The Bonapartes were a interesting group of people, and I felt enthralled as I went from famous women's perspective to the next.

I have to admit it took me awhile to get into the book.  I was captured by the cover, and by the end of the book, her writing did the cover justice.  My one complaint was that I would have loved to have less of Caroline.  That was too much scheming, and I didn't like that I was meant to like her by the end.

Who Should Read It:  If you don't love historical fiction, I wouldn't suggest it unless you love reading books set in the 1800's.  The book isn't just stuffy historical jumbo.  There is adventure, love, drama, and lasting friendship.  Does that sound good to you?  Then read the book.  =)


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