The Game of Hopeby Sandra Gulland Published 26 Jun 2018
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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?
Inspired by Hortense's real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn't choose.
"The Game of Hope" Reviews
This was just another solid page turner from Gulland.
1 sentence summary: Gilmore Girls-esque storyline set in post-Revolution France.
I was a beta reader and also received an ARC of the US edition. I love Sandra Gulland’s Josphine B. Trilogy, and although Game of Hope is geared towards a younger audience, I still enjoyed it. This is her first YA novel, so don’t go into it expecting it to be exactly the same as her other novels.
Hortense, Napoleon Bonaparte’s stepdaughter, has to navigate the society that her mother’s recent remarriage has put her in while also dealing with her PTSD from the Reign of Terror. There’s no huge climax that the plot works towards, but if you like historical fiction and coming of age struggles interspersed with snarky snide comments, then I highly recommend this novel :)
What does the future hold for the timid daughter of a beautiful woman; the step-child of a ruthless man?
When the story opens in 1798, Hortense de Beauharnais, whose father was guillotined during the last days of the Terror in France, is 15. Josephine, her notorious mother, is married to Napoleon Bonaparte, who is in Egypt leading the French army, and Hortense lives at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, nursing her talents, her sorrows and her secrets passions.
Sandra Gulland returns to the French Revolutionary era to tell the personal story of the young Hortense during the momentous rise of Napoleon from leading General to First Consul. Hers is the story of every young woman – influenced by momentous events, yet shaped much more by the incidents of her own life -- her guilt over her father’s death, her sorrow over the loss of a school friend, her passion for music.
Hortense is a well-rounded character, who grows in maturity over the two-year period of the novel. The setting seethes with the flavor of the era and the history weaves seamlessly into the story. Without giving anything away, the story ends on an uplifting note, as Hortense grows in empathy.
Delightfully written, as we expect from Ms. Gulland, thought perhaps a trifle slow-paced at times, this would be an excellent read for young adults, especially those with a love for history and for delicate romance.
*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
I enjoyed this unique, believable, and well-researched story!
As much as I love historical fiction, this novel did not hit the mark for me.
It was an okay read but nothing more beyond that. The story barely graded on events going on at the time and instead mainly focused on the character of Hortense. This is understandable as she is the main character and the novel is marketed being about her story.
However, I found she was somewhat of a boring and bland character. Adding on to that, she did not come across as being a teenager and seemed to be more relatable to a 10-12 year old in maturity.
Overall, it was an okay and average read but I wish that there was more of a plot. There didn’t seem to be anything happening and read more similar to a daily diary from a young girl.
***Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review***
Another excellent novel by Sandra Gulland. Some very apt words from Net Galley:
"Sandra Gulland demonstrates a masterful grasp that she has on history in her book The Game of Hope .... Gulland ... has no problem displaying her understanding of post-revolution France and therefore invites her readers into a well-developed universe of Hortense de Beauharnais.
This book is well written for younger audiences of teenage girls, connecting them to the past with common issues that all preteen girls face in a timeless fashion. Gulland does not pump Hortense’s 1780 mind full of 2017 ideas, which is a genuinely refreshing change to the typical YA historical novel
… for most preteen girls, this is still a wonderful introduction to history through the eyes of someone just like them, who truly lived, breathed, thought and felt in the same ways that they do."