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Stephanie by Gladys Malvern

Stephanie cover beebliome

That is past. A crown is only a weight. You have several and you are not a happy man. Aunt Josephine is not a happy woman. King Louis is morbid. Queen Hortense is miserable. The queen of Naples is feverish and dissatisfied. Queen Catherine is wretched. King Jerome is wretched, too. No, keep your crowns. To love, to be loved, this is the most precious thing in the world.” 

“Love!” he answered sharply. “It alone would never satisfy me. To live in splendor, to win battles, that is my destiny.”

It is early 19th century France and Stephanie de Beauharnais, the beloved adopted daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte, ruler of Europe, is crowned Princess Imperial.  She relishes her title and basks in the glory of a court that sees her as the most adorable thing they have ever laid eyes upon. But she is soon to marry Charles of Baden, yet another one of Napoleon’s tactics to dominate Europe. She abhors him and does not love him — is she blinded by the glitter of France’s court? Will she ever accept the humble and kind ways of her husband? 

Stephanie, by renowned author Gladys Malvern, is yet another of her masterpieces. Colorfully written, gloriously described, readers will find themselves immersed in the world of the Bonapartes and feeling for his “little pickle” —Stephanie is a must read!

For young adult readers aged 11 and above. 

Although at times it read more like non-fiction than fiction, nevertheless I loved this story of a noble-born girl brought up in poverty, suddenly raised to the status of royalty, and spoiled, only to learn the hard way that there are more important things in life than finery, fancy things, and social status. Stephanie becomes a part of the household of Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine, and is everyone’s darling. I was fascinated with the details of post-Revolution French life, which was a shift back to the wealth and splendor of the kings and queens. So much for “citizens” and social equality! I had read years ago a book about Napoleon’s family, so I knew they were a bunch of characters, but this novel really brought them to life. Poor Jerome, forced to give up the American wife he loved! Too bad he didn’t have the backbone to stand up to his brother. I must read more about them both.

When Stephanie is ordered to marry Charles, Prince of Baden, she is appalled, as she had determined to marry for love. Everyone is surprised at how she snubs and embarrasses him in public, and many people begin to sympathize with the German prince. What follows is a hard lesson for her to learn, as she travels to Baden with her new husband, alone, unloved by the people there, friendless. Fortunately, she’s smart, and learns her lesson. What a great ending! Stephanie was a real person in history, so now I must look for any biographies of her. Such an interesting person! I found a portrait of her in Wikipedia—she was, indeed, a beauty. I highly recommend this historical novel for anyone who enjoys an appealing female character
— Goodreads
This book, which I read when I was about twelve or thirteen, is the book that started my lifelong love of historical fiction.

The story of Stephanie, a young girl whose life suddenly changes as she finds she’s a “poor relative” of someone very powerful, and goes to live at the court of the Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine, really resonated with my pre-teen self. I loved the setting, and the way the book brought to life the court and the people of Napoleon’s reign.

I loved the way Stephanie, dazzled of course by the opulent settings, finds herself swept up in court life. Young and romantic, she has some hard lessons to learn about life and love.

This book opened up new worlds for me.After reading it, I devoured all the rest of Gladys Malvern’s books—or at least all that I could find.
Although I loved her historical novels best,as a young girl, I thought they were all wonderful. Maybe because this was the first book I ever really loved, and didn’t want to end, “Stephanie” will always hold a special place in my heart. I’d love to re-read it today
— Goodreads