On 2 December1804, in the cathedral of Notre Dame, Josephine was crowned Empress of the French. This was the culmination of a remarkable career which transformed the daughter of a minor Creole aristocrat into the First lady of the most powerful nation in Europe.
Josephines greatest accomplishment was her ability to survive. Her disastrous first marriage to Alexandre, Viscomte de Beauharnais had already ended in angry accusations of infidelity when she was widowed by the guillotine. She herself narrowly escaped execution. Thrown back on her own resources, her first concern, as it always to be, was for the safety of her children .
Nina Epton's lively biography offers a portrait of Josephine not only as the central figure of a new golden age of french imperialism, but more especially in her most intimate role of wife and mother.