Saturday, 10 March 2012

Historical Saturday (3): The Académie by Susanne Dunlap

The Académie 
Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury USA Children's
[February 28, 2012]?

Eliza Monroe—daughter of the future president of the United States—is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when—ooh, la-la!—she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies—and that she's about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.

Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe's imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.
A fun, romantic, really different read.

 As much as I love the French Revolution, I've never really looked beyond it in my reading and research. The Napoleonic Era and the time leading up to it are a vague mystery. I know there was a weak government, Napolean took control, got kicked out, took it back again, and eventually they just reverted to the pre-Revolution system. So I definitely got a better sense of what life was like after Robespierre was guillotined. It seems like Susanne Dunlap did a lot of research for this book. At the end of The Académie, there's an authors note where Susanne explains what she altered and what the realities were, which I was happy to see.

The Académie switches between three perspectives, Hortense, Eliza, and Madeleine. Eliza was probably my least favorite of the three narrators because she was very naive and unsteady. She flipped back and forth and she took a long time to develop and understand how she really felt. I know she was young, but she wasn't that much younger than the other girls. But I did love her ending. Madeleine was an interesting character, very dramatic. She was kind of overly dramatic and overly confident, but it fit with her background. The way her story line ended was definitely a shock. Hortense was my favorite of the three. She was more mature and she just understood what was going on better. She was a genuinely good person and I wanted life to be wonderful for her. I do wish we could've seen Caroline's perspective, as well. She was very manipulative and I would've liked to get more depth on why.

As for the stories themselves, they were all pretty interesting. It was nothing insanely amazing, but they were entertaining and tied in what was going on in the world around them, which some historical novels forget to do. The three different characters were also woven together really well and it made sense why Susanne Dunlap picked these three girls to narrate. Their lives all came together and it was impossible to have one and not the others.

The Académie was a fun read full of romance, mystery, and political change. I wasn't wow-ed and it wasn't super memorable, but it was a light read that I enjoyed. This is definitely one for historical fiction fans to check out!



  1. Ugh, they changed the release date for this? Guess my review will be late. :( my ARC had a late April date.

    1. I could be wrong. Netgalley and Amazon say April 10, but goodreads says February 28 and I know I saw it somewhere else...



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