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The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  5,853 Ratings  ·  718 Reviews
National bestselling author Michelle Moran returns to Paris, this time under the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as he casts aside his beautiful wife to marry a Hapsburg princess he hopes will bear him a royal heir

After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told th
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Broadway Books (first published 2012)
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Full disclosure: I was provided with an Advanced Reader Copy of the book by the publishers.

I've read all of Moran's previous novels, and it's been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I didn't like her ancient Egypt novels at all - the protagonists were too one-dimensional, the plots were simplistic and implausible, she failed to capture the zeitgeist of the times, and all in all I was disappointed by how juvenile the writing was. Moran's previous novel, Madame Tussaud, offered a meatier plot, a more we
Rio (Lynne)
3.5 Stars

I enjoyed this book. Like Moran's other novels, it was easy and light to read. It was full of history, but at the same time not heavily detailed. Moran focused more on the relationships than the actual political wars. This being my first read on Napoleon, I wasn't sure of how accurate it was. I didn't want to google until I finished. Other's have mentioned in their reviews that this wasn't accurate, but from what I have now searched, except for some minor things (dates, etc...which the
Jun 20, 2012 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where I got the book: electronic ARC from Edelweiss.

I don't think I've read a novel about Napoleon (this one doesn't really count) since Désirée , so Moran gets points for tackling what feels to me like a neglected historical niche (unless there's a whole slew of Napoleon books I don't know about somewhere). This story covers the latter part of the French Emperor's reign, when Napoleon starts getting dynastic ambitions and divorces Joséphine so that he can bring in Austrian princess Marie-Louis
*sigh* It seems as though Michelle Moran's novels are hit or miss for me. I absolutely loved Madame Tussaud and Cleopatra's Daughter, but cared little for Nefertiti or The Heretic Queen. Unfortunately The Second Empress will be joining the latter category, very disappointing.

The Second Empress has a number of issues, including the way in which it was told. Moran chose to have three narrators, alternating. I felt this was absolutely unnecessary. Marie Louise (the actual second Empress), Napoleon'
Sep 11, 2012 Yeny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Second Empress focused on the last few years of Napoleon’s reign. The author looked at this chaotic period through 3 people with different views – Pauline, Paul and Marie-Louise. After reading this book, I came to realize that I know so little about Napoleon’s rise and fall. After reading this book, I also felt that this book did not help me gain more insights to Napoleon’s rise and fall. The book is easy to read and fast paced. But it left me with a feeling of dissatisfaction. No substance ...more
Jo Anne B
The best part of this book was all the history of Napoleon Bonaparte. I think the author lured readers into this book by putting a woman on the front cover but she wasn't even the focus of the book, whereas Napoleon and his sister Pauline were. I did not like how the story was told by three narrators alternating each chapter. These were Napoelon's wife the Empress Maria-Lucia, his sister Pauline, and Pauline's servant Paul that loved her. I thought Paul's narration was pointless and made the sto ...more
Read It Forward
Michelle Moran is my favorite historical fiction writer - her novels are so sexy and smart. She's great at fleshing out those little-known characters that help her tell a much larger story. I'm always left a little obsessed after reading one of her novels, and The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court is no exception. Now I have to read more about Napoleonic France. And I'm especially obsessed with Napoleon's sister Pauline Borghese. You will be too!
Thanksgiving is next week. My sister is arriving in three days and we’ll be busy with some planned activities. On Dec 8th I am having surgery done on my hand, which will then be useless for 4 – 6 weeks. Christmas is coming on fast, and I have nothing done… no cards written, no gifts purchased, and the house is not decorated.

And I have been reading ‘The Second Empress’ for what seems to be FOREVER. So even though there were TONS of other things I should have been doing, I set myself a deadline an
Brittany B.
What an incredibly pleasant surprise! I ended up loving this book!

I have little interest in Napoleon up till now, but this book has sparked great curiosity. How did this family become so damned dysfunctional!? (And they really are a messed up crew!)

Between Napoleon and his sister Paulina, there is constant insanity in this book! Both are selfish, suspicion, jealous, very cruel, and conniving. Napoleon's greed brings him down, as we know. And Paulina's nymphomania seems the culprit for her demis
Jun 06, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
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 outstand
Aug 03, 2012 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those novels where I couldn't wait for a quiet hour so I could read what happens next. What will the vicious Pauline do to embarrass Marie-Louise and will Queen Caroline show herself up as a Corsican peasant beneath all her furs? The story doesn’t get bogged down with military manoeuvrings, territorial claims or battles either, all of which tend to happen in the background, but concentrates on the dynamics of Napoleon’s court and the women who vie for his attention.

Napoleon doesn
While I don't claim to be an expert on French history, I enjoyed reading how one author saw the times based on her assessment of what she gathered to support her story line. The Second Empress was an intense, well-written novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I found it very intriguing for a variety of reasons. For one, it held my attention because of the rich historical setting and many details included in each chapter. Even though the story was set in early 1800s France, in some ways the scenario M ...more
The Just-About-Average Ms M
I expressed my opinion at length on Amazon, so I won't duplicate it here. Suffice it to say that this was a travesty as far as historical facts are concerned, and a complete waste of time for anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the Napoleonic era. I can't remember when I've read anything so abysmally inaccurate. I don't care so much that Moran depicts Napoleon as a caricature, possessing every fault imaginable, or his sister Pauline as an uncontrolled nymphomaniac. However, I do care that s ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
I loved Moran's earlier novel about Madame Tussaud but found her new novel which takes place at the court of Napoleon less compelling. The novel takes place from 1809 to 1815, and alternates between three narrators, Maria Lucia, Princess of Austria, Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister, and Paul Moreau, a mulatto from Haiti who has come with Pauline Bonaparte to France as her chamberlain. Maria Lucia becomes a political pawn, much like her great aunt Marie Antoinette, when she is selected by Nap ...more
As with my last read, I'm really debating over a two- or three-star rating. I might change this one a couple times.

Why? Because as much as I can't get over "The Second Empress"'s many flaws, it ended up being a little addictive. (Much like Moran's super flawed "Nefertiti".)

"The Second Empress" tells the tale of a chunk of history I know very little about: Napoleon's reign, and specifically his second marriage. Truth be told, I didn't even know the name of Napoleon's second wife until I heard ab
Disclosure: I received a free proof copy of The Second Empress through a First Reads giveaway in exchange for a review.

This story is told from the points of view of three characters: Marie-Louise, the Empress of France; her sister-in-law, Pauline Bonaparte; and Pauline's chamberlain, Paul (originally Antoine, but renamed at Pauline's command). Napoleon is divorcing his first wife, Josephine, and on the hunt for a new bride. He chooses a Hapsburg princess, Maria Lucia, seemingly against everyone
I read Michelle Moran's 'Madame Tussaud' when it first came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. She brought the period of the French Revolution to life in a realistic and believable way, I felt like I had been transported back in time. I expected to find a similarly engrossing story in 'The Second Empress'.

While I did like this story, it was entertaining and easy to read, it doesn't have the same well-polished quality that 'Tussaud' has. The characters are not well developed and the period and the s
I quite enjoyed this historical fiction, provided by netgalley. I tend to be more of either a historical romance or a straight history reader, so this represented a bit of a change for me.

What did I like about this one?

- The writing style: first person all the way, but written from multiple characters' points of view. I really liked this. It could have been a bit confusing and a bit tedious but for the fact that the characters are very diverse and it really does give you the sense that you are i
Jan 02, 2015 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maria-Lucia, Archduchess of Austria, is planning to marry the man she loves and to one day rule Austria as regent for her ailing brother. Unfortunately for her, she is instead shipped off to France to be rechristened 'Marie-Louise' and become Napoleon’s “second empress” (replacing his beloved but barren Josephine). Once there she must contend not only with Napoleon, who is unsurprisingly pretty horrible as a husband, but also his eccentric family…most notably his sister Pauline, who spends much ...more
Aug 26, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was published the day I left for Vienna so I downloaded it to my Kindle before I left. How appropriate to read this novel while I was in Austria as the main character, Marie-Louise, the second wife of Napoleon, was born and raised in Vienna as the eldest daughter of Emperor Franz I of Austria. While I was in Vienna, I visited Hofburg Palace and Schönbrunn Palace where Marie-Louise grew up. I also visited the Imperial Crypt where she was buried. I very much liked the structure of the pl ...more
Apr 06, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was 3.5 stars. I will round up because I feel like I learned something. I don't know much about Napoleon and his rise and fall. Actually, I still don't after reading this, but I do feel I know more than before.

This was an interesting read. I loved the research the author provided and the way it was personalized with private letters. After reading this, I think I'm going to have to throw some books about Napoleon on to my TBR pile. It surprises me though, that so many people lived in a perp
MaryannC.Book Fiend
I truly enjoyed this. There is something special in the way Michelle Moran writes, it's straight-forward, no complicated frou-frou words, but engrossing. Sometimes I get a little bored with the whole Napoleon/Josephine rehash. Dont get me wrong, I love reading the history about the era and a good Historical Fiction thrown in also makes it very interesting. But, for me this was pretty entertaining, I loved Marie-Louise's strength and character.
4.5 stars, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I had been waiting for a book on Marie-Louise for ages, and I surely loved this. It might be a somewhat lighter, girlier read, but I learned a lot regardless! It has certainly whetted my appetite for the other books on the Bonapartes (what a family!) and the other books by Moran in my collection.
Nov 21, 2014 Catherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: club-sbc, aldiko
Ordinarily, I would not have chosen to read this book. Napoleon is a subject about whom I have zero interest. But it was a book club selection this month, so naturally I jumped in. All in all, I am glad I read it. I certainly learned new facts!

I actually learned much by doing suplimental research on my tablet, while reading. I love to do that sort of thing when I am reading historical fiction. I am reminded of having been immersed in Jean Plaidy historical novels, way back in the 1980s when I wa
Toni Osborne
A Novel of Napoleon’s Court

This is the story of Austrian archduchess Marie Louise who at the age of nineteen married Napoleon Bonaparte and became his second wife and mother to the sole heir of the French Empire. At the time the French court was a wild place and this young, shy and politically inexperienced girl had to fill her predecessor shoes, Empress Joséphine (Napoleon`s first wife) and command a small army of servants and courtiers. This may be her story but the Emperor took a great chunk
Jul 06, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Napoleon and Josephine is supposed to one of the all-time great love stories. I never knew that Napoleon had divorced Josephine because she couldn't give him an heir. He married Maria Louise of Austria, who did give him the son he wanted. But Josephine was always the love of his life. There is also more than a hint of an incestuous relationship between Napoleon and his sister, Pauline. Definitely Napoleon was an egotistical tyrant, and more of a scoundrel than I thought. This book gives an inter ...more
Christy English
Jul 06, 2014 Christy English rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! It does not make Napoleon look good, but I am fascinated by Pauline and by Mare Louise. Lovely portraits of two very different women. Michelle Moran rocks!
It was ok, I learned things.
I mentioned it in my updates throughout listening but I honestly felt disinterested most of the book. There were 2/9 parts where I was very interested.
I believe a large part of that is that the story is told from so many perspectives.
Maybe the narrators were confusing too because there were too many times where I'd miss who the character was that was speaking.
I have loved 2 other books by Michelle Moran this one just wasn't my cup of tea. But I am interested in dig
My reading counts for this year have really slowed as I've taken a break from short reads like cozy mysteries for slightly more substantial fare. It took me a while to really get into this book but about 30% of the way in - I got hooked! The narration moves between the second Empress of France, Marie-Louise; Pauline, sister of Napoleon; and Paul, Pauline's Haitian chamberlain. It's a bit frothy, gossipy at times with lots of court scheming but I found the main character of Marie-Louise really in ...more
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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Nov 20, 2014 10:23AM  
¿Por qué no una traducción al Español? 1 1 Oct 22, 2014 12:22PM  
Translation to Spanish, why not? 1 3 Jul 07, 2014 04:10PM  
Interview with Michelle Moran 6 47 Oct 14, 2013 03:27AM  
European Royalty: The Second Empress, Overall 6 28 May 30, 2013 01:09PM  
European Royalty: The Second Empress, through Chapter 21 4 16 May 30, 2013 12:54PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michelle Moran is the international bestselling author of six historical novels, including Madame Tussaud, which was optioned for a mini-series in 2011. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A native of southern California, Michelle attended Pomona
More about Michelle Moran...

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“The Empress Marie-Louise once asked me if I believed in ghosts.
'I find it hard to believe in something I've never seen,' I told her.
But perhaps ghosts aren't meant to be seen. Perhaps they are meant to be felt.”
“perhaps ghosts aren’t meant to be seen. Perhaps they are meant to be felt.” 0 likes
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