"Born a creole in Martinique, sent to France in her teens to marry a distant relative in order to salvage the family fortunes, Josephine was adventurous, ambitious and above all hardy - a survivor in a hazardous time. Soon separated from her dissolute, spiteful husband, she made her way in the salons of Paris, a member of the shadow-world on the margins of respectability." "Confined to the worst prison in Paris during the murderous days of the French Revolution, condemned to death, she miraculously escaped her fate and went on to marry the rising star of the Directory, Napoleon Bonaparte - the man who in a few short years, with Josephine at his side, became Emperor of the French." "But the partnership between them was flawed, for by the time Josephine met Bonaparte she had become accustomed to associating romantic liaisons with profit, and not with tenderness. Bonaparte, at first besotted with his wife, soon became her tormentor, and she sought escape and romance with the love of her life, an obscure officer named Hippolyte Charles." "Carolly Erickson brings the complex, charming, ever resilient Josephine to life in this memorable portrait, one that carries the reader along every twist and turn of the empress's often thorny path, from the sensual richness of her childhood in the tropics to her final lonely days at Malmaison."--BOOK JACKET.