The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland
An e-galley was provided by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom 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 as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror.
Where will Hortense's future lie?
Inspired by Hortense's real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn't choose.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I always hope I'll love historical fiction, particularly when it's about someone close to famous figures. A thin line has to be walked, though, when the main character is a real person, and I don't think The Game of Hope handled that line well. Things that Hortense would be familiar with were either over-explained or not explained well enough. There were a lot of characters from the very beginning, and I had trouble keeping them all straight. I also found the narrative voice to be VERY young and simplistic. Of course, I don't like overly complex or flowery prose, either, but the voice felt too young for a book that likely won't appeal to younger readers. Furthermore, I couldn't figure out where the plot was going, due to choppy chapter endings and scenes that felt like they didn't have a point.
The Verdict: Not really worth your time, in my opinion, which is a shame because there needs to be more YA historical fiction.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Nope.