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The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's…

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court (edition 2012)

by Michelle Moran

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Title:The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court
Authors:Michelle Moran
Info:Crown (2012), Hardcover, 320 páginas
Collections:Your library
Tags:Historical fiction, Napoleon, Marie Louise

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The Second Empress by Michelle Moran



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I found this book to be rather engaging - told from various viewpoints and set during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte and his second wife, Marie-Louise. The sections narrated by Napoleon's sister were particularly interesting - she was nutso and thought that she herself should be married to Napoleon and that they should go to Egypt to rule that country. If you like historical fiction, you'd probably like this book. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Jan 20, 2016 |
In her latest historical novel, The Second Empress, Michelle Moran focuses on Napoleon and his last few years in power. When Napoleon fathers a child with his mistress, and discovers that he’s not infertile after all, he is determined to divorce Josephine and produce an heir with a new wife. Napoleon’s self-centered and highly ambitious sister, Pauline, believes that Napoleon’s destiny is to rule from Egypt as a modern Pharaoh, with her by his side. Much to her distaste, Napoleon, always conscious of his humble beginnings, chooses to align himself with royalty and selects the Hapsburg Princess Maria Lucia, daughter of the King of Austria, as his bride.

Told through the first-person narrative of three people, the story unfolds to reflect Napoleon’s greed, materialism, and fanatical desire for warfare. The first is Marie Louise, the eighteen year old second Empress. The second is Napoleon’s sister Pauline Bonaparte who has an obsession with her brother and his power. The third is Paul Moreau, Pauline’s Haitian chamberlain. The years which Moran concentrates on are from 1809, the year Napoleon marries Marie-Louise, to 1815, the year he is exiled to Elba. While Moran’s easy-to-read style exposes the lives and loves of Marie Louise, Pauline, and Paul Moreau, she also reveals Napoleon’s spectacular downfall, beginning with the War of 1812, in which he suffered a humiliating defeat in Russia, leaving most of his army destroyed and his reputation in tatters.

The wealth of historical detail, drawn from the women's notes and letters, creates a realistic portrait of the royal court in turmoil. I thought Pauline was the most interesting character but in a way, the shifting points of view interfere with any real character development. Overall, I found The Second Empress to be well researched and highly readable, and cannot wait to read another Michelle Moran novel.
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  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
4.5 stars

When Napoleon's wife hasn't produced boys as heirs for him, he divorces her and chooses to wed an 18-year old Austrian archduchess, Maria-Lucia. Maria-Lucia is not happy about this, but does her duty, moves to France and marries him. Napoleon's sister, Pauline Borghese, is jealous. She wants power just as much as Napoleon. She also wants her brother to herself.

I really liked this. Napoleon is another historical figure I've not read much about. As usual, though, I tend to enjoy history and/or historical fiction from the point of view of women. This story is told from three different points of view: Maria-Lucia, Pauline and Pauline's chamberlain, Paul. I did prefer the POVs of Maria-Lucia and Pauline. Wow, Pauline was... wow – vindictive, crazy, there are many more words that could describe her. Though this was fiction, Moran took much of what she learned and put in the book from primary sources (including some actual letters written by Napoleon, his ex-wife, and others). I have to say that Michelle Moran sure does know how to tell great historical fiction! ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 4, 2015 |
This fascinating historical novel examines the last six years of Napoleon's reign in France. The majority of the book is concerned with the life of his second wife Marie-Louis, a Hapsburg princess who is forced to marry the man who destroyed her Father's kingdom. The antics and scandal of Napoleon and his family is at times disgusting, at others simply bizarre. The reader is caught up in the cruelty and pageantry of the French Empire. A story told with attention to historical detail and rife with salacious gossip and violence. An immersive read. ( )
  Juva | Apr 9, 2015 |
After Napoleon learned that Josephine had lied to him for years about her likelihood of bearing him a child, he divorced her and chose the Austrian Bourbon princess, 18-year-old Marie Louise, to bear his heir. This was a crushing blow to Marie Louise, as Napoleon had laid waste to her country, but her father could not refuse the Emperor. This story is told from the viewpoints of Marie Louise, trying to make the best of her marriage to a selfish tyrant instead of the Austrian noble that she loved, from Paul Moreau, the Haitian steward of Napoleon's sister Pauline, and from Pauline, obsessed with power and spiraling into madness. It is fictionalized, but fascinating. It evokes realistically the attitudes and lives of that time in history. ( )
  dolphari | Apr 5, 2015 |
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Cairo, July 25, 1798. You will see in the newspapers the result of our battles and the conquest of Egypt, where we found resistance enough to add a leaf to the laurels of this army.
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It is 1809, and while the French Revolution is over, the bloodshed in Paris continues under the reign of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Although he has conquered much of Europe and is considered one of the most formidable generals in the world, Napoleon still lacks one important thing -- an heir. Convinced that his faithful wife Josephine will never produce one, he divorces her and begins the search for a new bride. His choice lands on the unwilling Austrian Princess, Marie-Louise, whose great-aunt, Marie Antoinette, suffered a terrible fate at the hands of the French. But once Napoleon makes his intentions known, not even Marie-Louise's father can save her from what is certain to be an unhappy marriage.

After Marie-Louise arrives in France, she is treated to a spectacle beyond anything she could have ever imagined in Austria. From lavish parties that would have made Marie Antoinette blush with shame, to temper tantrums thrown by the Emperor’s spoiled siblings, the French court is wild, juvenile, and extravagant. The worst offender of them all, however, is Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s promiscuous sister who is doing everything she can to encourage Napoleon to divorce his new wife. Her dream is to take the imperial crown for herself--just as the Egyptians did--by marrying her own brother. When Marie-Louise uncovers the relationship that exists between her husband and his sister, she is horrified. Surrounded by duplicitous courtiers and untrustworthy family members, the new Empress finds two unlikely allies at court: Hortense, the beautiful daughter of Joséphine, and Paul, the insightful servant Pauline took away with her after visiting the island of Haiti.

Based entirely on primary resources, The Second Empress recreates Napoleon Bonaparte’s wildly promiscuous court--and the women who tried to control it.
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1809. The French Revolution is over, but the bloodshed in Paris may continue under the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Based entirely on primary resources, this recreation details Napoleon Bonaparte's wildly promiscuous court and the women who tried to tame it.… (more)

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