Book: The Académie

The AcadémieThe Académie by Susanne Dunlap

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Publish Date: February 28, 2012
ISBN: 1599905868
ISBN-13: 9781599905860
Genre: Fiction – Young Adult, Historical
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Synopsis: Dangerous liaisons abound at an exclusive all-girl’s boarding school in post-revolution France.

Eliza Monroe—daughter of the future president of the United States—is evastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside f Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea hen—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.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Susan Dunlap’s The Académie is a historical tale that takes place after the French Revolution. While Dunlap has taken creative license to the events that take place, The Académie has many similarities to reality. Set in 1779 France, Dunlap writes about lives of four young women – Eliza Monroe, the daughter of soon-to-be President Monroe, Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, Caroline Bonaparte, sister to Napoleon Bonaparte, and Madeline, a daughter of a stage actress.

The Académie is told in an intimate way, revealing each lady’s most intimate and inner thoughts. There is nothing held back, each thought filled with an arrogance and pride that suits a wealthy and privileged debutante. Dunlap nicely blended the historical events with the social events. It was like watching an episode of a teen drama show, but with a historical twist.

Dunlap’s world, even if it was a realistic setting, was great. I enjoyed seeing France at that time and through the eyes of young women. The culture at The Académie  was specific, but given where the girls are from, it wasn’t a surprise. I wish the pacing was a little more steady, but it could have just been me. I felt that some characters were exciting while others were just there for additional detail and information.

After a while, the varying points of views confused me. There wasn’t a particular order, that I could understand, so it was easy for me to lose track of what was going on. The characters each had a great start, but after several chapters, I thought it was a little cumbersome to follow along.

The Académie is a good historical fiction for young adults. I would definitely give it a try.

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