Eliza is quite mature for her age, but you can still tell she’s young (she’s 14). She was unsure about being left at a boarding school in France until she met two of her classmates, Caroline Bonaparte and Hortense de Beauharnais. Then she hopes to make the most of it by befriending these two girls and finding romance. Hortense get’s a lot of unwanted attention and is plagued by nightmares. She just wants to blend into the background and live her life on her terms. Meanwhile, Madeleine wishes for an escape from her dreadful life and her mother. She also wishes to runaway with the love of her life.
While I enjoyed the book, I couldn’t help but think the author could have done more with the characters. Eliza does change and grow by the end, and I was happy that she learned something. I did want to see more of Caroline and Hortense at the end, since it seemed like their stories wrapped up too quickly.
Madeleine’s chapters were my favorite, but they were the fewest. Her story had a lot of potential and was taking place separately from Eliza’s and Hortense’s, so we got a completely different point of view from her. Towards then end is when her storyline really took off, only to end in disaster! Her story definitely did not disappoint and I wasn’t expecting that ending at all. All of the plotting and scheming through out the book led up to that one moment and it is a shock. If you can make it through the slow parts, you should not be let down by this book.