The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland

The Game of Hope

Sandra Gulland

Set in Paris 1798 and inspired by Hortense de Beauharnais' real-life autobiography, The Game of Hope is a story of a girl destined to play a role she didn’t want during the French Revolution.

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For Napoleon's stepdaughter, nothing is simple - especially love.

Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom have suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother's dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother, Josephine, has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense at the outset as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror.

Where will Hortense's future lie? it may not be in her power to decide.

Inspired by Hortense's real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of life long ago, this is the story of a girl destined by fate to play a role she didn't choose.

Advance Galley Reviews

I've been trying to get back into reading historical fiction but always have a hard time finding a book that is going to keep me interested. The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland kept me interested for sure! I felt that it was a bit too young for me at times but overall I really enjoyed the story. I thought Gulland portrayed what it's like to be a teenage girl very well. I would definitely recommend this book to young girls!

This is an absolutely stunning bit of historical fiction. The characters are emotional, compelling, and wonderful to follow on their journeys. The author clearly did the research behind the piece, and it follows a character who, while in love, does not place that aim above all her other talents - loyalty, bravery, musical composition. The author did a fantastic job of breathing more life into one of history's ignored characters.

I studied Revolutionary and Napoleonic France in college and reading this book was a nice way to refresh on some of the events that happened. This YA novel centers around Napoelon's stepdaughter, Hortense, her time at school, love of music and friendships. Hortense isn't a particularly likable character, but understanding what she went through during The Terror and the pressures placed on her as a Bonaparte family member makes up for it. The book does kind of...just end and in the afterword the author tells us what happens to everyone (for those unfamiliar with Josephine and Elba.) Overall, it was a good book though it did drag in some places. I would recommend this to those who like this time period as well as historical fiction.

I absolutely loved this look into the life of Hortense de Beauharnais, step-daughter of Napoleon, who I'm surprised I hadn't heard of before. I had learned a lot about Napoleonic France in school but mostly from the perspective of England and America and in relation to Napoleon as a general and emperor but I knew next to nothing about day to day life in France or about the women in his life. Hortense and her mother, Josephine, are portrayed as complex, multi-faceted women, with much to do outside of the famous Napoleon. (Although it was interesting to consider the oft-ridiculed emperor as a loving husband and step-father.) Gulland brought Hortense's world to life, especially in terms of the Institute and what it was like to be a student there, being taught a full, well-rounded curriculum but still with the ultimate goal of marriage. I especially enjoyed Hortense's relationship with Maitresse and her friendships with Mouse, Em, and Caroline. Gulland allowed Hortense to be a teenage girl, who giggles, enjoys sweets, and lusts after an attractive man, but also gave her a strong inner dialogue and ambition, showing us how she composed music and preformed piano even if tradition dictated she be less independently minded. Gulland did a brilliant job of weaving letters seamlessly into the story, bringing it even more to life. I enjoyed her easy to read but descriptive writing style as well as her character driven narrative. I will be on the lookout for more of her work.

The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland DNF @ page 133 - 2 stars The Game of Hope is a YA historical fiction novel that follows Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's step-daughter. Honestly, I have no clue what the plot of this novel is because the 133 pages I read were a hodgepodge of girl drama, sordid family dealings, and music. It was all very boring and I'm quite sad because I thought this was going to be a novel I would love. I do enjoy historical fiction re-imaginings and I had high expectations for this one, not absurdly high, but I thought it would be a nice YA historical fiction that would at least garner four stars. What I read only garners 2 stars. It's not bad, but it is bland and drab. This book lacks substance, life, and vitality. It feels like it wants to be dramatic and over the top, but is bogged down by Gulland's disconnected writing style. The style has no passion and it left me feeling so disconnected from the story and the characters. Historical fiction has to be fierce and passionate because it is recreating the past and presenting a multitude of characters. I cared about no one and was interested in no plot. I am so sad that this wasn't a new favorite. Whimsical Writing Scale: 2 The main female character is Hortense. She is bland, but she does have a drive for composing music, which is an interesting passion. However, her actions in the last chapter towards her friend, Mouse, in revealing the truth behind her mother's death was very cruel and it left a sour taste in my mouth. I was over this novel by that point, but her cruelty and it being swept under the rug so easily was just the nail on the coffin for this novel. Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 1.5 There are a multitude of characters and I can't be bothered with any of them. The drama is petty and manages to be uninteresting. There is also some weird romantic subplot with Jaydin, her music teacher, and I just wasn't feeling it or interested in it. Basically, I couldn't be bothered and found there to be too many characters and not enough development to hold my interest. Character Scale: 2 Overall, I do think The Game of Hope will be a favorite for many fans of the Napoleonic period. I was sadly disappointed by this book and did not finish it. I don't regret my decision to DNF this novel because I feel like I would've probably ended up disliking it even more by the end of the novel. Plotastic Scale: 2 Cover Thoughts: I love this cover so much. The art is stunning. Thank you, First to Read and Viking Books (Penguin), for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This was an enjoyable work of YA historical fiction. The addition of an extensive glossary and explanation of characters would be very useful for a young reader not already familar with this portion of the Napoleonic period. It was an easy, pleasant read.

I enjoyed reading 'The Game of Hope,' and would recommend it to a fellow historical fiction fan. Gulland did a lovely job of weaving subtle, though very interesting, historical tidbits (describing in detail the contents of meals, habits of fashion, and limitations of gender present in late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century France) throughout the story. The fact that many of the letters in the story are duplicates of actual historical documents is very intriguing. While I enjoyed the book, however, I must admit that the story did seem to drag quite a bit until the last quarter or so. If you find yourself feeling the same way, keep reading! The follow-up provided by the author at the end is worth it.

This is a wonderful book to read if you already like historical fiction. While maybe not as emotional as Queen of someday, for example, there is a sort of raw simplicity to this book that makes it a nice Sunday read. The author takes time to include a glossary and character cheat sheet, so this would be a good gift to a student just entering this book's reading level.

This would not let me download it. Tried multiple ways. Going to deactivate account and try making a new one.

This book was fantastic! I loved every single part of it. Being in the historical genre I was worried I wouldn't connect with it and understand everything but the Author did an amazing job of explaining and helping you feel as if you were right there with the characters. I went into this knowing very little about France and Napoleon except for the little I learned throughout my world history classes in High School. I especially liked the incorporation of the letters which I was surprised to see at the end are actual letters written by the real people that are portrayed in this story. (Although some of it was embellished.) A great read and I would highly recommend it. I was provided an ARC of this book by Penguin Random House for an unbiased review.


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