A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Despite many historical settings and events, the plotline and the stereotyped characters will leave readers wondering what is fact and what is fiction.
In this rather silly story, Napoleon Bonaparte regrets not spending more time making himself beloved. Betsy finds him heroic despite his exiled status. The central message seems to be girls just want to have fun, even in 1815.
Positive Role Models
Betsy is loyal to her friends and she is ambitious. Napoleon Bonaparte is shown as a very ambiguous historical character.
Violence & Scariness
Brief reference to Napoleon's massacre of prisoners; battle.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Rumors of mistresses and harems that follow Napoleon; rumors of an improper relationship between 14-year-old Betsy and Bonaporte are reported in a newspaper; Betsy enjoys her first kiss(es) with an older naval officer; her 16-year-old sister fools around with an officer; Betsy finds Bonaparte in bed with a married woman.
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"Hell" is uttered.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink at parties; Betsy is locked in her father's wine cellar for a day as punishment and she drinks a bottle of wine while there, becoming drunk for the first time.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a fairly harmless piece of historical fluff. Betsy is a tomboy but superficial and self-centered; she helps her family's tutor hatch an escape plan for Bonaparte but when the beloved tutor dies in a test run, she tells no one and goes merrily on to a ball. Her 16-year-old sister dallies with older officers while trying to find a husband. The historical details get lost in a convoluted storyline that has Napoleon Bonaparte playing the part of a misunderstood hero who commands the devotion of a bored 14-year-old girl -- but at least he doesn't take advantage of her.
Is It Any Good?
These are cardboard characters that don't engender much emotion. Betsy is "headstrong" yet also thoughtless. And all the girl-power in the book is negated by the short-sighted, predictable ambitions of this spoiled teen.
The odd mix of historical details and preposterous plot lines never gel to make a respectable romance or an alternative history. The author's note at the end explains that most of the characters were based on actual people, and that records show that the exiled Bonaparte did make the acquaintance of Betsy and her family. But that doesn't seem to make the story any more intriguing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.