Nancy's Reviews > The Emperor's Body: A Novel

The Emperor's Body by Peter Brooks
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's review
Jan 21, 2011

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bookshelves: first-reads, historical
Read from February 22 to 26, 2011

The Emperor's Body opened as an historical novel and eventually unfolded as an exploration of the nature of love and liberty.

I was never a student of history so it is both educational and enjoyable for me to explore an event, or period, through an historical novel. This book centered on the voyage to exhume Napoleon's body (from St. Helena) and move it to Les Invalides in Paris. The politics surrounding the exhumation was all new to me so I enjoyed learning a little bit about that period of French history.

But, I was more interested in the slow emergence of the character of a beautiful young woman frustrated by the limited options available to her in life. It could be said that this seemingly traditional historical novel emerged as a feminist manifesto. Or, a writer's manifesto ("the role of a writer is to understand") so the book's aspiring author created life experiences to enable her muse.

In general, when I finish an historical novel I am merely left with the story told, but I particularly enjoyed the "aftertaste" of this book because it left me thinking. Not about French politics. Not about Napolean or the Royalists. But about the limited options that were historically available to women and the bold choices that some rare women were strong enough to make.
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02/22/2011 page 110

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Interesting! I want to read this book now myself.

Nancy One of the narrator's was an aging romantic named Henri Beyle--a.k.a. the novelist Stendhal. I have not read Stendhal but wish that I'd had some experience with his French novels prior to reading this book.

One of the virtues of the GoodReads (free book) program is that it throws in our laps books we would not likely explore on our own. And this was one.

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