Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte will stop at nothing to marry the Hapsburg princess he hopes will bear him a royal heir, in this compelling novel from bestselling author Michelle Moran.
After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When eighteen year old Marie-Louise is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon or refuse and plunge her country into war. To save her father's throne, Mary-Louise is determined to be a good wife. But at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her new husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s sister Pauline, who is fiercely jealous, utterly uncontrollable, and the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. When war once again sweeps the Continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family, the second empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.
The Second Empress will transport you back to Napoleon's empire where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Second Empress is the story of an ambitious Emperor and the women who surround him during a volatile time in French history.
Since I was a teenager, I have had an infatuation with the love affair that was Napoleon and Josephine. I have read many books that contain their love letters and have found them and their story fascinating. I never gave much thought to the other women in his life. This book brought those women to light.
Told from various character perspectives, all of which are outstanding, the Second Empress, Marie-Louise, comes to the foreground in this sweeping tale.
Pauline, Napoleon's sister, is a constant in his life. Someone he turns to and that is faithful to him to a fault. Josephine, cast aside for want of an heir to the throne, remains his one true love. Marie-Louise, the Second Empress, comes to him, bound by duty to her own family, never to love or even respect the man who seeks to control all of Europe.
The author does a tremendous job mixing history and storytelling to weave an intricate tale spanning the last 6 years of Napoleon's reign. The pace is quick which made it a fast read I had a hard time setting aside. Sometimes, with historical novels, too much detail weighs the story down. Not in this case. The author does a wonderful job giving enough detail to make the story come to life and uses enough discretion not to cause an overkill of the senses. The reader gets a sense of who these people are, where they have come from and where they are going and why.
If you're a fan of historical fiction, this one is a must read!!!!
I found this shorter than the Egyptian books, but it was very entertaining.