In preparation for NaNoWriMo (beginning on November 1), I’m wrapping up the first draft of a short story I began two weeks ago. I’m devoted to giving long-forgotten women in history a voice in today’s world, and I’ve found just the woman to write about. Her name is Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie. What a name, right? But she’s most notably known as Joséphine Bonaparte (1763–1814). Before marrying Napoléon in 1796, who called her Joséphine, she was simply referred to as “Rose.”
I could do an entire series of short stories based on her, which I may do after NaNoWriMo. My first story about Rose chronicles her early life, specifically, when she’s sixteen years old in 1779. Rose left her home on the island of Martinique and set sail for France in order to marry Alexandre de Beauharnais (1760-1794), a wealthy young army officer. His father was the governor of Martinique; her aunt was his mistress. Rose grew up on her father’s sugar plantation, forged relationships with the slaves, and wasn’t as refined as Alexandre would’ve liked. Needless to say, the marriage was not a happy one. The couple managed to have two children: Hortense and Eugène. Rose grew weary of Alexandre’s dispassion and obtained a legal separation.
My first story doesn’t delve into Rose and Alexandre’s marriage, but gives an embellished account of her culture shock upon arriving in France from Martinique, as well as the pressure to please her father, her aunt, her father-in-law, and her handsome husband-to-be. She sees her marriage collapsing in front her, even though it hasn’t taken place yet.
Rose has been such a fascinating woman to research and write about. It’s been a delight to place myself in her head and write what she could’ve been feeling at such an uncertain time in her life. I’m truly looking forward to writing another story about her once she’s older and wiser and not taking any crap from anyone!