The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court
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The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  3,496 ratings  ·  548 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...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 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...more
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-Louise...more
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
*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'...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
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 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 auth...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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!
Christy English
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!
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
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...more
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...more
Wisteria Leigh
Having read all of Michelle Moran’s novels, the allure of The Second Empress, her latest historical fiction work about Napoleon’s Court was an irresistible pick from my TBR pile. I chose wisely and for a few hours I became French with a bit of Austrian thrown in. Much has been written about the Bonaparte family including thousands of letters that the author notes she examined in order to shape her vision of Napoleon and other family members, Pauline, his sister, and Josephine his first wife. She...more
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...more
Sandy Vaughan
First, you have to know this is one of my favorite writers so you know I was going to add it to my library and was pretty sure I was going to like it.

I loved it! I learned so much I didn't know about the time, Napoleon, his second empress, and some of his female relations!

I knew nothing about Marie-Louise! She comes across as a very bright, loving person and mother who had to endure a lot from Napoleon (who would have been considered an old man). Her father, King of Austria, really left her no...more
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
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.
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...more
Blodeuedd Finland
So far I have not read a Moran book that disappointed me, and I happy to say that one was just as good as the rest.

Through out the whole book there was this easy flow to it, I took it up and started reading and suddenly I found myself 1/3 through the book. So I did what any booklover would do, I finished it in one day. I really liked the flow, the book felt light by it.

The book itself spans over 6 years and has 3 POVS. Princess Marie-Louise who have to marry Napoleon. She is not happy but will d...more
Viviane Crystal
Michelle Moran has written a novel about the courtly life of Napoleon Bonaparte and his family. The story is told from the point of view of Maria Lucia, Princess of Austria, who will become Napoleon's wife after he discards the cheating Josephine; Pauline, Napoleon's sister, who really believes she is like Cleopatra and in truth would like to marry Napoleon and be Empress; Paul Moreau, Napoleon's Haitian chamberlain, trusted by all and serving almost like a Greek chorus in this evolving tragedy;...more
Moran always does a lot of historical research so her novels are informative as well as entertaining and any minor liberties taken with historical accuracy are done so for the sake of the story. This story was one that I was not previously aware of so I was quite intrigued, but it was somewhat choppy and just did not engage the reader into the meat of the real story as much as it could, I think. So I was a little disappointed as I had expected more having read others by this author.

Told mainly f...more
Author Michelle Moran does a wonderful job writing historical fiction novels. This is not the first novel I have read by her, and it won't be my last. This novel is about Marie-Louise (Maria Lucia from Austria), the Second Empress of France, married to Napoleon Bonaparte after he divorced his first wife, Josephine, when she could not give an heir. The marriage is not a happy one, but one that Marie-Louise enters into in an effort to save her father's throne (the Hapsburg throne) after Napoleon's...more
The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court could not have been released sooner. As a good Michelle Moran fan, I requested this book 6 months ago from my library because I had to be the first to get it. I am not a patient person when it comes to my books. I was not disappointed!!!

Going into this book, I knew very little about Napoleon or his court. If I hadn't known the second empress was historically based, I would have thought it was nonfiction. He was a jerk and possible psychopath. He wa...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...more
National bestselling author Michelle Moran has once again created a vividly imagined novel. THE SECOND EMPRESS takes the reader back in time to Paris during the final six years in the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as he casts aside his ever devoted, loyal and barren wife Josephine to marry a young Austrian princess in the hope of siring a royal heir.

While not particularly kind in it’s depiction of Napoleon the book does offer the author’s premise of how this charismatic man who rose from v...more
Holly Weiss
Michelle Moran explored the French Revolution years in her popular Madam Tussaud. Her new novel, The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court revives the next chapter in French history. The story opens in the year 1809 and covers the latter part of Emperor Napoleon’s reign.

After conquering most of Europe, Napoleon is greatly fatigued but must set himself to the task producing the all-important heir. He divorces his beloved but barren Josephine. This turbulent story is told from the point of...more
I actually rated this a 4.5

Funny thing...I don't remember ever reading a novel set during Napoleon's reign yet here we are in the third week of January and I've already read two this year! Whereas The Secret of the Pink Carnation was more of a romance/spy novel set in the height of Napoleon & Josephine's reign, The Second Empress is straight historical fiction and covers the last years of Napoleon's control over his empire. I'm not sure why but up to now, I've never really had much interest...more
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Translation to Spanish 1 3 Jul 07, 2014 04:10PM  
Interview with Michelle Moran 6 45 Oct 14, 2013 03:27AM  
European Royalty: The Second Empress, Overall 6 27 May 30, 2013 01:09PM  
European Royalty: The Second Empress, through Chapter 21 4 15 May 30, 2013 12:54PM  
European Royalty: The second Empress, Chapter 21-end 1 7 May 15, 2013 08:43AM  
Read It Forward: * THE SECOND EMPRESS by Michelle Moran 7 35 Dec 04, 2012 01:38PM  
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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 was born in southern California. After attending Pomona College, she earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher, Michelle used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her exp...more
More about Michelle Moran...
Nefertiti The Heretic Queen Cleopatra's Daughter Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution The Egyptian Royals Collection: Three Historical Novels by Michelle Moran: Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra's Daughter

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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.”
More quotes…