Monday, March 26

The Academie: Book Review

The Academie
by Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury
February 28th 2012
Young Adult/ Historical
Napoleon Bonaparte

Young and full of her own importance, Eliza Monroe finds herself in an academy for young ladies. Although, Her mother hopes she will make some influential connections, it isn't long before she has embroiled herself in a tangled mess.  Everyone has a secret, and for some, their secrets could be disastrous.
Don't you love this green dress? I think she looks very secretive. It turns out that the lives of the people in this book are nowhere near as pretty as the cover.
The idea for this story was taken from the interaction between three families. The Monroe's, Beauharnais', and Bonaparte's. It isn't long after the end of the French Revolution as Bonaparte rises in power. The remaining members of the aristocracy are in tatters but desperate to restore their past lives. Eliza shows up at the academy for ladies to make important connections and get some French polish. She is only fourteen but used to getting her way. Only this time the playing field is something she is unfamiliar with. Hortense Beauharnais and Caroline Bonaparte are not only more knowledgeable but highly connected. Caroline is the queen bee and will use anyone to get what she wants. She also despises Hortense and torments her. Eliza ends up in the background to all the drama and gets mixed up in some dangerous situations.
The characters were really hard to like. Caroline is a mean girl who cares about no one but herself and her family. I disliked her schemes and her ability to twist others around her finger. Hortense was a shock since she is the beauty that lacks self-importance. She is humble but at the same time almost annoyingly naive. Eliza is whiny and a gossip monger.
The pace of the story is painful to begin with. I attribute it to the characters being unlikable. One hundred pages into the story things begin to happen. It is much more entertaining to watch the characters react to situations then to listen to them bicker. The entrance into the trio of a fourth girl ends up being the catalyst to a sad ending. Especially for my favorite character Eugene. I feel so sorry for all of the younger generation. They are victims of their parents' obsession and inability to let go of the past and move on. You would think the adult survivors of the terreur would have disliked having no choice in their systematic executions and would be more lenient in the future. The ending was also left open for more. As Eliza departs, she mentally states that she will see them again. It doesn't seem well founded in some instances after I discovered the basis for the story.
I would recommend The Academie for those more interested in learning about society during this point in history. Keep in mind it is seen through the eyes of a fourteen year old, so take much of it in stride. Expect nothing near a happy ending and you will be poised for the best way to enjoy this book.

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