Author: Susanne Dunlap
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: February 28, 2012
I received an ARC from NetGalley.
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.
The Academie takes place right after the French Revolution, and while I can't comment on the historical accuracy, I can say that this was a very interesting story of an important time in France as seen through the eyes of three very different young woman. The story starts off a bit slow, setting the scene, but once the connections between all three girls starts to become clear, I was very intrigued. I had no idea how this story was going to unfold until it unfolded. It kept me guessing until the very end.
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.
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