Susan's Reviews > The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court

The Second Empress by Michelle Moran
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's review
Jun 27, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 25 to 27, 2012

I received an advanced reader copy of this book through the Goodreads, First Read program. That being said, I have been a fan of Michelle Moran's books, and very much enjoyed her ancient Egypt novels. When Madame Tussard came out, I had no desire to read it because I was not interested in that time period, but thankfully I read it anyway. Now comes another novel, that I normally wouldn't read due to the era in which it is set, but given that it was Ms. Moran, I gave it a chance too. I'm glad I did. As in her Egyptian novels and Madame Tussard, Ms. Moran has a way of reeling you into the story of what may have happened.

Based partly of history, partly on imagination, The Second Empress, tells the story of Napoleon's second wife and the end of his rule. The book is written through the voices of the three main characters, Maria-Lucia (Marie-Louise) - Napolean's second wife, Pauline - Napoleon's sister and Paul - Pauline's Chamberlain. This was a bit confusing at the beginning and I kept having to check to see who was "writing.", but once in the novel, their voices became clearer.

Napoleon, having yet to father a legit heir, is divorcing Josephine and looking for a new brood mare and royal to validate his rule. Maria-Lucia has been raised to believe that she will become the regent of Austria for mentally incapable brother when her father passes. When Napoleon asks for her hand, she must go or put her father's kingdom in jeopardy. Maria-Lucia (who is renamed Marie-Louise by Napoleon) moves to France and is enmeshed in the interesting world of Napolean's court. Navigating through Napoleon's egotism and Pauline's insanity (she wants to rule Egypt through brother-sister marriage), ML comes into her own, protecting herself and her son in the final years of Napoleon's rule.

The book is an interesting, well researched and an addictive read. I look forward to Ms. Moran's future endeavors.

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