« Me, Malmaison, close friend of Joséphine "Written by Françoise Deville, passionate and collector of objects by Joséphine and Bonaparte, prefaced by David Chanteranne historian, journalist and editor-in-chief of the journal" Souvenirs napoléoniens "is a promising work.
A house steeped in history
La Malmaison, "the place where one feels Napoleon and Josephine the best" was discovered by the future Empress in 1793, was sold to her in 1799, passed on by inheritance to Eugene her son, passing from a Swedish banker in 1827 in the hands of from the Queen of Spain in 1842, then to Napoleon III in 1861 to be finally bequeathed to the State in 1904 and become a museum dedicated to the Consulate and the Empire.
La Malmaison was the house of happiness where Napoleon experienced the joy of youth but also Joséphine's refuge after their divorce. She had works and transformations of rooms carried out there, installed collections of paintings, Etruscan vases, sculptures and minerals; the magnificent park was laid out with English gardens, a large greenhouse welcoming plants from Martinique and Oceania, not to mention the various animals that reminded him of his youth.
Throughout the book, the author retraces the life of Joséphine de Beauharnais and that of Bonaparte, from birth to death, emphasizing their respective characters, their happy moments, their favorites, their emotions, their intimate moments, their “typical” days, meetings, parties, times of war, exploits, each other's children and their lives, difficult times, melancholy, sadness; the set is embellished with surprising and sometimes funny details and letters from personal to mutual friends.
It is a beautiful book, interesting, yet a little complicated for the novice reader, because there is not really a chronological sequence.
Moi la Malmaison The intimate friend of Joséphine, by Françoise Deville. Editions de La Bisquine, April 2018.