the-stolen-girl-zia-wesley

The Stolen Girl – A Book Review

the-stolen-girl-zia-wesleyThe Stolen Girl is book 1 in The Veil And the Crown series, written by Zia Wesley. Yesterday, while browsing Kindle Unlimited I came across this book among my Kindle recommendations – I read a lot of historical fiction.

I was curious and glanced at it, but then I continued browsing and looked at a few other books about the Tudor era. I kept on going back to the Stolen girl, though. Two girls – cousins made to go their separate ways, bound for great destinies … pirates, abduction, Napoleon, the Ottoman Empire … and while the work is fiction it is based on historical events and real historical people.

Those two girls existed. One of them was Marie-Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, also known as Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife.

Although this first name is known to everyone, the second one may not be. It wasn’t to me either: Aimée du Buc de Rivery, a French heiress who went missing at sea, captured by pirates and sold to a harem. According to legend she became the consort of the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and although this has not been proven, this legend has survived for two centuries on three different continents. The story is intriguing and absolutely fascinating.

Astonishing Legend

I could just end my review here and tell you that I read this book in one day. Enough said, it was great! But let me tell you why. As you know, Marie-Josèphe Rose Tasher was born in Martinique, which was a French colony in the 18th century. Both Rose and Aimée were raised on this tropical island.

The story begins with both girls, Rose and Aimée, aged fourteen, sneaking through the bushes at night, on their way to see Euphemia David, an African Obeah woman. She could foretell the future and she had never been wrong with any of her predictions. This woman also existed and her prediction that both girls would one day be queens is also known to be true. She really did tell Rose and Aimée that such a splendid destiny was awaiting them.

tropical-jungle

Rose was headstrong and indomitable while Aimée was deeply religious and obedient. They were as different in looks as in character. Rose had dark hair and brown eyes, and Aimée was blond with blue eyes. Both women were considered beautiful.

After both of them are sent to France, events are set in motion that begin to prove Euphemia’s prediction true. Rose marries Alexandre Beauharnais, a distant cousin who is horrified at his wife’s “crude” island manners. Aimée’s debut in Parisian society is also disastrous. The snobbish Parisian nobles are appalled at the way the women move their hips when they walk – as they learned from their African peers on Martinique.

French-wigs

Rose is stuck in a loveless marriage. Alexandre spends his time in Versailles, leaving his wife at home, not wanting her to embarrass him in public. He spends the money her dowry brought him, not allowing her a single coin, and he has affairs with other women, leaving Rose to raise his two children and his child with another woman.

After having failed as a society debutante, Aimée leaves Paris and goes to a convent. Since her reputation is “ruined”, she knows she has no chance of finding a husband, and so she decides to take her vows. To see her family one last time before becoming a nun, she leaves on a ship for Martinique. Once more, the prophecy proves itself true when the ship is attacked by Barbary pirates and she is taken captive.

The Corsairs take her to Algiers where they sell her to the Dey, Baba Mohammed. Baba Mohammed is the lord of all Ottoman and Berber pirates that operate in the Mediterranean Sea. He takes Aimée to Istanbul and presents her as a gift to the sultan.

pirates

My Thoughts

From the beginning I was hooked. I was interested in the stories of both girls. Rose – or Josephine – has always been known as Napoleon’s first wife and love of his life, but what else do we know about her? She was a single mother when she met him, widow of Alexandre Beauharnais who was executed in the French Revolution. Before, I had never bothered to find out anything else, and I wanted to learn more about her.

This first part of the series, however, is more focused on Aimée. It centers on both Rose and her childhood and their time in Paris. Then, we follow Aimée’s journey and watch her destiny unfold.

What I loved about this story were the vivid descriptions of the surroundings, people, exotic foods, rooms, and buildings. They transported Turkish-sweetsme into the Ottoman world, making me see through the main character’s eyes. It was obvious that the author had done her research. The dishes that were served during Aimée’s sojourn in Algiers, the opulent baths, the description of the slaves, customs, rituals, etc were a clear indication of how much research Zia Wesley had actually done.

Then, in Istanbul, the descriptions do not stop, and they did not once tire me. I am usually put off by too many explanations, but in this book, it didn’t feel like an explanation or description; the author had literally transported me to the Ottoman Empire. It was as if I had stepped into a time travel machine and I was there, right beside Aimée. I tasted the wonderful meals, glimpsed the women of the harem, admired the amazing rooms and hallways she passed through, and saw the fearsome Janissaries who rebelled against the sultan.

I was that much engrossed, I even went to Costco to buy Turkish sweets – I remembered that they have them there. I could already taste those sweets, I love them, I have had them before. Much to my disappointment, Costco didn’t have them, the girl at the desk informed me that they were only sold during Christmas. During Christmas? Really?

haremAs you can see, I was captivated. The book, however, is not only about all the beauty and opulence of the Ottoman Empire. There can’t be a palace without intrigue and danger, and as Aimée climbs the ranks, she is about to discover that too.

There, that’s all I am going to reveal, because I really don’t want to give any spoilers. This is the best book I have read this year – I know, the year has only just begun, but this is a good start 🙂

The Stolen Girl is highly, highly recommended!

I already downloaded part 2, The Sultana, and I am looking forward to accompany Aimée – and hopefully Rose as well – on their eventful journey.

 

Affiliate disclaimer: Lila C Duville is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

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Comments

  1. Thank you for the incredible review.  This book sounds exactly like the kind of read I love.  It will transport me inside the book to experience almost first hand what the main characters are going through.  

    Your summary has me on my way to purchase this book and I will look forward to reading it this weekend.  Thanks again, Sharen

  2. Historical fiction definitely is an interesting genre. I would consider most retold stories to be historical fiction, as it’s impossible to tell something exactly as it occurred. The Stolen Girl looks like an adventure not to be missed. Pirates, Napoleon, the Ottoman Empire, these are all things that interest me. Marie-Josephe Rose Tasher’s story sounds like an interesting one pulled loosely from true events. We don’t get to read many stories that take place in the Ottoman Empire and I will definitely check this one out through your link, thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Very true, it is impossible to portray a story exactly as it occurred. The author did a wonderful job in recreating these events. I’m glad I picked this book.

      Enjoy!

  3. Highly Unputdownable! i couldn’t stop to catch my breath as i consumed graciously all the content of your review. And then i realised again, if the review is this hot, how would the actual book take on me? The stolen girl, from the title down to the cover image to the last page proves to be an adventure. 

    The major characters Aimee and Josephe reminds me of the grandeur of history and the contrast we find today. And then i want to ask, do we still have such eventful lives in the world today? If they are, where can we find their stories or are there books you can recommend ?

    I have been following your books and reviews and i am loving your choice and taste for classics.

    I enjoyed reading reaching for pearls. Thank you so much for making this available.

    Looking forward to your next publication. 

    Success to your goals. Shalom

    1. Hello!

      This book is really an adventure! I am going on my next adventure with part 2 this weekend 🙂 

      Do we still have such eventful lives today? I believe so, yes. Good question, actually. I am going to find some books about eventful lives nowadays. And I will include one of them for a review.

      Thanks for another wonderful comment!

  4. This is a well written review. It really points out the best in the book, and engages the audience to really take a look at this book. Was there anything in the book you didn’t like, i.e. writing style; any part of the story line? I think putting in a full-rounded review would benefit the potential readers as well. Other than that, it sounds like a really good read. 

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Perhaps one thing I didn’t like so much was that Rose wasn’t mentioned so often, but since this is a series I think that the author will also focus on Rose’s story in one of the upcoming books. But overal, I really loved this book, especially the writing style.

  5. “ The Stolen Girls ” attractive name hope the story will be more attractive. Thank you very much for this detailed review. Thanks for sharing reading experience with us, hope it was happy reading. Cannot wait to read this book, as soon as possible I’ll collect my copy. 

    Thanks again for this informative article…                       

  6. Hi Christine,

    I studied Turkish in university and visited Istanbul a few times, so this novel caught my attention when Aimee was taken to Istanbul as a gift for the Sultan. I love Turkish food actually and the culture, both are beyond description, so I read this novel to experience my life in Turkey again.

    For the Turkish delight, yes, it tastes quite well even from Costco. But if you ever get a chance to visit Istanbul, you must try the delight(lokum) from the local shops. It’s like finger-licking, and you cannot stop.

    The descriptions of the surroundings, people, foods are the critical elements in one novel since it takes readers into an exotic place they have never been before. Sometimes, I find myself obsessed with the descriptions the author illustrates instead of the main storyline. It looks like we both have something in common in reading.

    Thanks for your review of The Stolen Girl, I need to download it now. 🙂
    Matt

    1. Hi Matt
      When I lived in Germany I frequently went to Turkish restaurants, and I loved the food! I would love to visit Istanbul one day and enjoy more local foods, especially the Turkish delight. I’m going to read part 2 of this series today. I’m looking forward to it!
      Thanks for your comment!

  7. I am not a fan of reading books all the time but your fantastic review may changed that for me.  You also chose your images carefully,and they look professional as they should.  You brought the whole story to life when you mentioned that as result you went costco to buy sweets, that means you read it by heart and followed it by actions. 

    I learnt a lot reading through your review including how you summarised your review 
    Fantastic work, keep it up
    Cheers
    Bernard

  8. I’m an avid reader and a big fan of Jane Austen…so I was happy to find this book review, thanks for posting it! I’m not familiar with this series or with Zia Wesley, but I do like historical fiction so I’ll definitely add this book to my list – especially since you said you read it in one day!

  9. This was a phenomenal review. I’ve always been interested in history concerning Napoleon. It sounds like these girls had quite an adventure. Achieving their destiny sounds like they had to work pretty hard for that. Being stuck in a loveless marriage can be tough. It sounds like Rose found a way to find the one she was meant to be with.

    I like to comment about the Turkish sweets, I enjoy them as well. I can usually find them in our local Winners stores. But now that we’re limited to going out, my daughter works at Costco I will have to ask her to pick some up for me. Thanks for a great book review. Now I have to get this on my Kindle. Reviews are great, but when you are reading  a book it takes you to a different land and it sounds like this book does exactly that

    1. Hi Jagi,

      This book takes you indeed to a different land. I enjoyed immersing myself in the story. And those Turkish sweets are delicious. Enjoy!

  10. Thank you for your post. It is a nice book review. The stories of the two girls are fascinating to me. Rose’s life experience impressed me. Her first husband was executed in the French Revolution. She managed to survive the situation and had courage to continue her life.

    Looks like this is an excellent book to learn more about the background life during her time. There are so many things to learn, such as surroundings, food, buildings and people.

    It is an interesting book and I will definitely put this in my reading plan

  11. Love your site very well written..beautiful pictures done a nice job feelig up all the space..can’t wait for mine to looks as good as yours you have put a lot of time and thought in to your work keep up the goog work i am positive it will pay off in the end

  12. Thank you very much for the review 🙂 I love historical fiction, because it make learning history more amusing (although I need to later check the difference between fiction and real history). Is the story of Rose and Aimee interluded throughout the book? Also, how many part does The Veil and The Crown have? This will be a good book to read during this social distancing period due to coronavirus outbreak. Thanks

    1. Hello!

      This series has two books, The Stolen Girl and The French Sultana. Historical fiction can never be accurate, but you can tell when it’s close to real historical events. The author of these books definitely did much research. You’ll enjoy these stories 🙂

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