One of the most potent icons of female sexuality, Josephine has largely been reduced to an empty cipher, the butt of one of the oldest jokes around. Hitherto, her life has been portrayed almost entirely in connection with Napoleon, but that relationship was only a tiny fraction of the life she led as a Caribbean women in the salons of eighteenth-century Paris. Andrea Stuart shares with her subject a Caribbean background and is able to offer a unique insight into the world which Josephine left for Paris and marriage to her cousin, Viscount Alexandre Beauharnais. Expecting an exotic Creole bride, Beauharnais set about a radical transformation and the dowdy teenager soon became a sophisticated sensual beauty, the darling of the pre-revolutionary salons. As the revolution reached its endgame, Josephine, now widowed with two small children, met her Emperor and the rest, as they say, is history. More eventful than the most lurid novel, no single life so embodies the vice and virtues, the tumult and dangers of the period through which she lived. By reconstructing Josephine's life and world, Andrea Stuart brilliantly captures the extraordinary drama of the age and its unique atmosphere and
Andrea Stuart was brought up in the Caribbean and the US. She has lived in Paris and now lives in London. Her first book, Showgirls, was published to critical acclaim by Jonathan Cape in 1996. She is co-editor of the Black Film Bulletin and Fiction Editor of Critical Quarterly.