The Second Empress

Michelle Moran. Crown, $25 (311p) ISBN 978-0-307-95303-2
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. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2012
Release date: 08/14/2012
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 203 pages - 978-0-307-95305-6
Hardcover - 465 pages - 978-1-4104-5259-7
Ebook - 358 pages - 978-0-85738-861-2
Paperback - 326 pages - 978-0-307-95304-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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