Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: The Académie by Susanne Dunlap

The Académie

Author: Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: February 28th, 2012

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Historical Fiction



Eliza Monroe-daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she's about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.

My Thoughts: I love reading historical fiction, and this book didn't disappoint me. I started reading it and I couldn't stop. It's not full of action and drama, but it was interesting to me. I learned more from this book than I did in my grade 11 history class (my teacher did pretty much nothing). It's a good look into how an all girls school might have been in that era.

The story is told from three points of view. There is Eliza, the American; Hortense, Josephine's daughter; and Madeline, the daughter of an actress. I'm normally not a huge fan of using multiple character's PoV, but Susanne Dunlap makes it work. 

Eliza, the youngest of the three, starts out as more of a child, but she is from America and wasn't around for all the events that caused the others to grow up faster. As the story progresses, she slowly learns more about the real world, and is no longer as sheltered. She falls in love, learns that not everyone can always be trusted, and learns more about friendship. By the end, she has grown up quite a bit, even if it hasn't been a whole lot of time that's passed. Eliza is probably my favorite of the characters because she changes the most.

Hortense on the other hand, is one of the most famous girls in Paris, her stepfather is Napoleon Bonaparte after all. At first I truly felt sorry for her, she has some real horror in  her past. But, as the story goes on, I kept switching back and forth between liking her and not liking her. Sometimes something would happen to make me feel bad for her, but then other times what she was doing was just selfish. I kind of feel bad with how things end up for her in the end, but she knew it was how things would turn out for her in the end.

Madeline is a character that I felt bad for the whole time. Her mother was awful to her, just completely awful. So when she falls in love, all she can do is think about when she'll finally get away from her mother. Things look up for her for awhile, and you learn that she really has some talent with her singing, but then you get to the end and you're back to pitying her.

I can't forget Caroline! She doesn't narrate at all, but she does play a major role. I probably disliked her the most. As selfish as Hortense seemed at times, Caroline was always selfish, and it got her everything she wanted in the end. But she uses Eliza and Hortense along the way, which makes me dislike her.

So the story was a little slow in a couple of place, but it read fast overall. I would start reading and an hour later would realize I had read 100 pages and was shocked because it didn't feel like I had read that long or much. So the book does flow along pretty good.  I would recommend this book to those of you who really enjoy historical fiction and don't mind a story that has a little less action. There were a few points where I would get confused as to who was narrating, but I quickly found out in a line or two, I'm going to blame that on my mommy brain. Overall, this was a nice, enjoyable read for me.
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy!

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