Books: Napoleon's First Girl

D ÉSI RÉE (594 pp.)—Annemarie Selinko —Morrow ($4.50).

It was 1794, and Citizen Robespierre had just set up an altar to human reason in Paris. Little Desiree Clary of Marseille, though only 14, was a true daughter of the revolution, and, in her diary, brought all the power of her reason to the solution of a world problem. Her estimate of the situation: "A woman can usually get what she wants from a man if she has a well-developed figure." Her decision: "To stuff four handkerchiefs into the front of my dress tomorrow."

Desiree did, and a lucky thing too, for...

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