This year there is a rich new slate of historical works that share the stories of women who have ignored them who have made their mark in history quietly. Books like Catherine Sharp Landec’s “The Women with the Silver Wings,” which explores the role of squadrons in World War II, or Ariel Laurhon featuring the French rope Nancy Wake in the code name Hélène. And then there’s the latest novel by Queen Giant Alison Pataki, which centers on another often-forgotten character: Desiree Clary, best known as the woman Napoleon left for Josephine.
“When you say the name Désirée Clary, most people have no familiarity or frame of reference with that name at all,” Pataki tells the crowd about her heroine. “She not only survived during this turbulent and fascinating period of time, but continued to reign, prosper, and eventually found a dynasty, as a matriarch, who still rules to this day.”
Readers will discover that Clary’s path is a path we often don’t see in history, reminiscent of a new generation of queens – like Megan Markle and Kate Middleton. “(Desiree) was not born royal,” Pataki explains, “she pushes these extraordinary circumstances of life because of her love affair with Napoleon, and then continues to live this turbulent life and eventually becomes the queen of Sweden.”
When he married Carl X Johan, Desieri established a dynasty that continues to this day, which was very fascinating for Pataki. “Napoleon couldn’t find a dynasty to rule forever, and that was his intention. (But) Desiree’s dynasty still reigns to this day,” she says. “The two princesses of Sweden are Victoria and Madeleine. Their middle names are Desiree and Josephine.”
Clary’s story has fallen out of popularity in recent decades, with the last major story being Anmari Slinko’s 1952 novel, simply titled Desiree. (It continued to inspire a 1954 film of the same name starring Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons.) Pataki even had trouble finding source material for her research on Clary.
“For me, it started out as a frustrating situation,” she says, “but eventually I realized that it was a gift for me, as the historical fiction writer, because I had to pull her out of this supporting role, put her at the center of her story, and use the historical facts to imagine her life through My novel. “
Not only that, but Pataki says she was given “the opportunity to revisit history from the perspectives of the truly fascinating women who were there.” And that’s something that Patti excites, and has made his career. In addition to Clary, Pataki brought to life the page Peggy Shippen Arnold and Elizabeth from Austria. The story of Elizabeth, narrated in the films of The Casual Cats and Sissy: The Empress Alone, was aired on TV when Crowned Amy Jenkins adapted it for the screen.
Naturally, Pataki does not stop with Desiree. “I’m going to make another really big, juicy, historical drama (about) a real woman from history,” Pataki says.
The movie “Alison Pataki’s Giant Luck” is available.