BOOK CLUB: Josephine’s Garden

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Author: Stephanie Parkyn
Publisher:Allen & Unwin

I love Historical Romance and if that’s your thing also, then Josephine’s Garden is one to add to your reading list. We first meet Josephine on the day she’s to face the guillotine, by sheer luck she is released before her beheading. This was before she had met Napoleon Bonaparte and she was known as Rose. 

This was something I was not aware of.  It’s one of the things I love about this type of book where the author has spent many painstaking hours researching their subject, and we get to read a wonderful story and be educated at the same time.  Through this book I was to learn not only about Josephine’s relationship with Napoleon, but also about her strong love for plants, and her desire to create the most amazing garden.  I saw what an amazing woman she was and how in those days life was very much a struggle for a female, how your fate very much hung in the balance.

It had a lot to do with your husband and whether he decided to remain married to you or move on to another.  Woman were judged very much not on their own merits but on their husbands’.  Josephine battled hard to make sure that she and her two children would be protected and have a good life.  She stood with dignity while all around her knocked her.  She dealt extremely well with Napoleon’s families hatred for her.  Josephine had a lovely connection with Australia which was a delight to discover and learn about.

Not only was I educated about Josephine but also about her connection to two other women, Anne and Marthe.  The book teaches us about these women as well, and we get a little of their stories too.

I loved looking up the locations on google maps especially the home of Josephine, Malmaison and the Jardin des Plantes.  I would have loved to be able to jump on a plane and visit these locations, but I have locked them in my mind as locations to visit if ever I am lucky enough to visit Paris.

This book is a wonderful Summer read that I delighted in reading.  I read it over the Christmas and New Years break, which of course was very busy.  I hated having to put the book down and would spend my time worrying and thinking about Josephine until I could get back to her and find out more.  I love Stephanie Parkyn’s writing and would love to read more of her works.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading this book. You can read their comments below, or contribute to the discussion by leaving your own feedback.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Josephine’s Garden

  1. Josephine’s Garden is a historical novel, based on actual events in history. It is about the Empress Josephine of France, her turbulent marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte and the garden she created . The story begins in 1794 at the end of the French Revolution.
    Rose de Beauharnais who becomes Empress Josephine spends her time at many of the Royal palaces but her favourite is Malmaison where she creates an extravagant garden.
    The wives of two botanists Marthes and Anne play a large part in the story as they are linked to Josephine’s life. They are from very different social worlds but the life of a woman in this period of time is not an easy one. Once married the need to produce an heir is paramount and as a woman in a man’s world life is difficult but Josephine struggles to make a decent life for her children .
    Josephine’s Garden looks at class and power and it is easy to see the contrast between Rose’s wealth as Empress and the struggles of the average French person.

    I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Great summer reading.

  2. On first sight I loved the cover of this book and was intrigued to see what was inside.
    Set in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s this book is amazing in historical detail. You come to feel like you are part of history and surrounded by Josephine’s garden, which in itself is a work of art. This book captures so many emotions along the way.
    Rose (later known as Josephine) finds herself free from prison on the day she was to be gullotined and into the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Becoming his wife and the Empress Josephine of France.
    While her husband is at war with any country he feels to, she builds the most perfect gardens, with rare seeds and plants and surrounds herself with animals from all over the world. She is a beautiful soul and endures alot throughout the years.
    In time if she cannot have a child with Bonaparte to provide him an heir, she risks losing it all.
    I really liked this book. There is alot to take in but for anyone who likes stories from long ago this is well worth a read. The fact that Stephanie Parkyn studied and put this book together from history is very clever. I admire her work here and look forward to more from her.
    Thanks for the gift of this ARC from Allen&Unwin in return for my honest review.
    Although I didn’t get this from Beauty and Lace I love sharing my thoughts with you all.

  3. Being a plant person the cover of Stephanie Parkyn’s book “Josephine’s Garden” had me intrigued, then discovering it contained historical fiction based on historical facts pulled my interest in further. I was not disappointed as this book about Rose (renamed Josephine) who becomes Napoleon’s mistress, wife and long term lover had me enjoying every moment as their story developed.
    Josephine lived a life of extravagance manipulating others in her need to secure a future for her children whilst loosing some parts of herself. The garden Josephine created was a space for reprieve and balance in what was an extreme lifestyle in France after the revolution. In contrast two other women married to botanists shows a differing viewpoint of how life is for the ordinary French families.
    I really enjoyed the mentioning of Australian plants as wonderful exotics and would love to see them growing to their maturity in the garden that Josephine created through courage and obsession for only the best.
    Thank-you ‘Beauty and Lace’ and ‘Allen & Unwin’ for the opportunity to read and review a great historical romance novel “Josephine’s Garden” by Stephanie Parkyn

  4. This is the first time I have read a Stephanie Parkyn novel and found it to be a delight!

    The book is a historical drama set in France, beginning in 1794 after the horrors of the French Revolution, and stretches to 1810.

    Based on true facts, Empress Josephine of France and her husband Napoleon Bonaparte spend time at their many palaces. While Napoleon Bonaparte is at war with any country he feels to Empress Josephine builds a garden of wonders with plants and animals she has collected from across the globe at her favourite palace Chateau Malmaison. The description of flowers, plants and animals came to life and you could picture the, all there if you were standing in the garden itself.

    There were two other characters in the book Marthes and Anne, linked to Josephine’s life, coming from very different social worlds and wives of botanists. There was a connection between all three women and in time it became clear the relationships played in each of the women’s lives.

    If anyone loves a historical read I highly recommended this book.
    Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Allen & Unwin for the chance to read and review.

  5. Don’t judge a book by its cover! The cover for Josephine’s Garden looks like one of those cheap 50 cent romance novels which is really not to my taste. Instead, it’s a thoroughly researched historical novel about Josephine and Napoleon. I loved it. I learnt so much (if only history class at school was taught through novels like this). I never knew that so much of Australia’s flora was in the amazing gardens of Paris and I’m looking forward to my next trip there to visit all the spots from this book with a newfound appreciation.

  6. I was given Josephines Garden to review.
    I am not and never will be – I don’t think- into historical romance.
    I did persevere and found out a lot of history that I did not know .

    I must say that it took me a while to read but I did finish it- I lent it to a friend who devoured it- she said it was the best book she had ever read .

    Goes to show that not everyone has the same taste, but was glad of the opportunity to give it a go x

  7. Unfortunately I received this book to review at a time of great turmoil in our country…the devastating bushfires of January 2020. I attempted to read it the first time, but was continually interrupted by the devastation that was unfolding around me. I was reading yet not comprehending and found it difficult to follow.

    I persevered and made it a point of completing the novel. Whilst I can say that historical novels are not really to my personal taste, I could relate to the central character.

    I am determined to set a time in the future to give this book another chance.

  8. women in histrory were honer bound by there husbands, there main roll was to keep house make sure there where children preferable a boy, while Neapolitan is away fighting a war Josephine builds her garden filled with all the exotic plants and animals she can find, in the begin Josphine was inprisoned and later released, her struggle with life and keep her children as safe as she did her best, it was a novel that was not my cup of tea but i did manage to read it to the end, i apologize for it being late, but i was under going cancer treatment at the time and completely forgot about it

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