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Empress Josephine's family has been called to Napoleon's court for the terrible news that he intends to divorce his barren wife of thirteen years and take a younger bride, the Austrian Princess Marie-Louise.
For Josephine's daughter, Hortense, this means she is free to leave her husband, Napoleon's brother, having given the Bonapartes three heirs. As she looks for love, she must support her mother through the terrible grief of Napoleon's betrayal.
For his new wife, it is a terrible duty she must take on in her father's name. She has nothing in common with the strange, older man she has married and can find little in her life to enjoy. But an unlikely friendship with Hortense will bring her much comfort, especially as she must fight for her own happiness.
For Napoleon's sister, Pauline Bonaparte, it is yet another woman stealing her brother's attention and affection. Having spent years attempting to control his power and his influence, she must fight harder and dirtier if she is to win...
Opening her new novel (after Madame Tussaud) in 1809, Moran studiously applies her research into Napoleon and his family to compelling fiction. Ostensibly the portrait of Marie-Louise of Austria, who became Napoleon s second wife, the novel s title could as easily apply to the emperor s sister, Pauline. Her sexual exploits, unnatural closeness to her brother, and obsession with ancient Egypt contribute delightful color. She badgers Napoleon to ignore Russia, divorce his new wife, and establish their kingdom in Egypt, which, following the example of the Ptolemies, they could rule as both brother-and-sister and husband-and-wife. Effortlessly switching the point of view from Marie-Louise to Pauline to Pauline s Haitian chamberlain, Paul, the picture of Napoleon that emerges is less than favorable, unlike that of Marie-Louise. Great-niece of Marie Antoinette, she was raised to serve as regent for her younger brother and educated like a king. When Napoleon left her as regent, she exhibited a remarkable ability to rule. The empire brought great wealth to France, and Napoleon and his family spent it with abandon. Another enjoyable historical from Moran.