Saturday, April 7, 2012
The Académie (review)
The Académie is a historical novel set in Paris right after the French Revolution. It's a re-imagined history, intentionally fudging dates and ages, to put Hortense de Beauharnais (daughter of Josephine), Carolyn Bonaparte (sister of Napoleon) and Eliza Monroe (daughter of James Monroe) at L'Académie Nationale a SaintGermain at the same time. It's a fun little book set against the backdrop of a struggling France.
Eliza is naive and young, but it's more endearing than obnoxious. Carolyn is cunning and bold, much like her famous brother, Hortense is caring and careful. They make quite the trio.
Their mischievous adventures takes them from school to Malmaison to Saint Cloud where they disguise themselves as soldiers to obverse some of the biggest moments in the history of France.
For me this book felt a little more juvenile than I expected. All of the romance was underdeveloped (with Eliza it actually made sense given her age). It hit on some of my romantic pet peeves, such as characters being able to read LOTS into other characters eyes. I know sometimes in the past conversations between boys and girls was not easy, but having eye conversations seems like a cheaters way to create romantic tension. Despite the dash of insta-love, the book later addressed that in an unusually self-aware move.
While I do not enthusiastically love this book, I did enjoy reading it. I think this is best for the younger spectrum of the YA audience or people particularly enthusiastic for French history. What I liked most about this novel was the historical backdrop, even if the ages of the main characters were modified, because I found the schoolgirls perspective on changing France to be interesting.
The authors note might be my favorite part because I had no idea that a real friendship between Hortense and Eliza Monroe existed. I love the fact that the author took that little snippet of history and wrote an entire book based up on it.