Ambition and Desire - Kate Williams

Kate Williams's third book, Ambition and Desire, is an engaging biography of Josephine de Beauharnais. Josephine rose from obscure origins to become the wife of the Emperor Napoleon, surviving the Revolution and the Terror along the way. Williams's taste for flawed, complex subjects is evident in this volume, which portrays Josephine as a woman who was profoundly human and relatable despite her fame and notoriety. As Napoleon's wife Josephine was the perfect Empress, a talented hostess and shrewd diplomat whose charm offset her husband's rudeness, and she was loved by the people of France despite her reputation for sexual licentiousness and apparent shopping addiction. Of equal interest to Josephine's story is her unique perspective on Napoleon. Through her eyes, the reader sees not just an ambitious conqueror, but also a suitor, lover, and husband.