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. Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe's imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.
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.
Now the tone of the novel was set by the sophisticated and fabulously polite words of the time period. I couldn't help but be swept away in the beautiful language, in the world of high etiquette, and the drama of historical figures that filled the book. If I may, I'd say this book was Gossip Girl meets the 1800s. Except if you are looking for the steamy hook-ups and lusty canoodling that come on the CW drama, you should probably look elsewhere. For lovers of historical fiction, I can assure you that the book is filled with dramatic encounters and ardent love affairs. The Bonapartes were a interesting group of people, and I felt enthralled as I went from famous women's perspective to the next.
I have to admit it took me awhile to get into the book. I was captured by the cover, and by the end of the book, her writing did the cover justice. My one complaint was that I would have loved to have less of Caroline. That was too much scheming, and I didn't like that I was meant to like her by the end.
Who Should Read It: If you don't love historical fiction, I wouldn't suggest it unless you love reading books set in the 1800's. The book isn't just stuffy historical jumbo. There is adventure, love, drama, and lasting friendship. Does that sound good to you? Then read the book. =)
Let me try to explain. The Academie is one wild ride of a book. There’s so much scandal and drama and overdramatic and scheming characters, all of which I loved to bits. I loved Eliza and Hortense and I even kind of liked Caroline, despite the amount of times where I rolled my eyes at her.
And for most of The Academie, I loved the ride! Like I said, there’s a ton of scandal and secrets revealed and it was cool being a part of that.
Unfortunately there were a few plot elements in The Academie that left me feeling a bit confused, and the end of the book was like HOLY WHAT. There’s a huge, and I do mean huge, twist towards the very end that I didn’t see coming – I had to reread it like twelve times to make sure it actually happened, and I’m still kind of confused as to why it happened.
The Academie was my first book by Susanne Dunlap and while it wasn’t one of my favourites, I’ll be reading more from her very soon. The Academie was a roller coaster of historical fiction and scandal, and while I think you should give it a shot, I’m warning you now about the WTF ending.
Review originally posted on my blog http://hobbitsies.net/2012/04/the-academie-by-susanne-dunlap/
The story is told from the perspectives of three different girls, Eliza, Hortense, and Madeleine. While I do tend to like books told from the perspectives of multiple characters, I had a bit of difficulty with this one. For one thing, not one of these three girls was especially likable. All lacked common sense. Often, I also had difficulty telling the narrators apart as well.
I also thought it was strange that the book was called The Académie when most of the book was not actually spent at the title institution. There were few scenes about their education. All the school really did was bring the main characters together (in fact, only two of the three attended the school). Rather than being about the boarding school, it was about three, well actually four (Caroline, who has as much 'screen' time as the others, perhaps more than Madeleine does not get any narration), girls and their pursuit of love.
What really struck me here I guess was how young even the oldest of the girls seemed. Their romantic plans seem so childish, even less realistic than a lot of the YA romances where the 15 year olds are convinced they will be in love for all time. I didn't ship any of the couples in here at all. Everyone involved just needs to do some more maturation.
I really hope that some serious editing was done before the publication, because this galley had way more typos and grammatical errors than the average. I've done some research on Dunlap and have heard good things about her, so I do plan to give one of her earlier books a try.