A fairly balanced view of Murat from Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine, and adopted daughter of Napoleon.
Murat was a good man. He was dashingly brave, and possessed military talents together with a great desire to please and to be admired. He sought to have good manners and overdid them. One saw by his exaggerated dress and his attentions to the ladies that he wished to resemble the Villarceaux and Sévignés of the days of Louis XIV. These famous courtiers were the models he had chosen, but the rough hearty republican could not be completely hidden, and the mixture of the two opposite types of character would have been ridiculous at times if one had not been conscious of the honest, frank soldier in the background who reconciled the puppets one to the other. Consequently, in spite of his male and martial beauty he was a far less dangerous person than he imagined. He had an excellent heart, a mediocre mind, and the rise of his fortunes had been too rapid not to have slightly turned his head. Ambition without those qualities which justify it is a despicable thing, and only really great men can make it into a virtue. The ambition of Murat was a result of his good fortune, and after being a distinguished general he became a second-rate monarch.
Source: The Memoirs of Queen Hortense, Vol. 2, by Queen Hortense. Translated by Arthur Kingsland Griggs. Original text published in 1927; e-book published by Pickle Partners Publishing in 2016.