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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

For Napoleon's stepdaughter, nothing is simple -- especially love. 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 coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror. Where will Hortense's future lie?…

The Game of Hope

by Sandra Gulland

Overall Book Review:

Author Sandra Gulland dabbles her hand in the YA genre with her latest historical fiction novel, The Game of Hope.

Set in 18th century France, the book follows protagonist, step-daughter to Napoleon Bonaparte, Hortense de Beauharnais. At 15 she has survived what is known as The Reign of Terror, in which she witnessed much brutality, and endured sorrow, but her disposition remains hopeful, and her music keeps her steady.

Written in the first person, the author does take liberties with the storyline interweaving some facts into the novel reflecting on two years of Hortense’s life before her step-father became Emperor. 

Through her relationship with others, Hortense is portrayed as a kind, creative, and compassionate character. Her progression into womanhood is written with naiveté one would expect from young ladies of that time, who unfortunately don’t have much say or options for their future.  There are some humorous and joyous moments within the novel, but the overall tone of the book stays more on the melancholy side, which probably represents the life of the protagonist best.  Recommended for readers who enjoy period pieces with a light touch of romance, The Game of Hope garners interest into the lesser known compatriots with Napoleon Bonaparte’s life.  

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Penguin

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations. 

Violence/Gore:  A few (about 4) incidents of violence being humorous; about 5 reports of violent altercations including battle reports, past beheadings, and discovery of suicide; ~ 2 events of injuries due to war violence; ~ 2 scenes involving violence including a girl punching another girl.

Sex/Nudity:  Several (10+) scenes of teen female(s) innocently and naively discussing sexual relations within and out of marriage as well as homosexuality; 1 extended scene (about 2 pages) in which characters discuss sex (non-mature manner); teen female moons her classmates; a few reports or incidents of kiss on hand/mouth and/or embrace. Note: within the culture it is not unusual for young teenage girls to marry adult men.

Mature Subject Matter:

War, death/execution, imprisonment.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Underage (under 18) and adults drink alcohol throughout novel.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.