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Stunning in form, theme, and plot, Moran's fifth historical novel (after Madame Tussaud) shines a spotlight on the Emperor Napoleon, the love of his life and first Empress Josephine, the family members who clamored to share his spotlight, and Marie-Louise, the Austrian princess who became his second Empress. Narrated from three different perspectives, including that of Napoleon's infamous sister Pauline, her Haitian servant Paul, and Marie-Louise, the novel follows Napoleon from his height of fame in 1809 when he desperately tries to secure his succession by acquiring a second wife until his disastrous invasion of Russia and concluding with his return from exile in Elba and the Battle of Waterloo. Marie-Louise is simply huggable; torn from her family and marrying Napoleon to protect her father, she embodies the era's idea of duty and Europe's fear of the unstable Emperor. Verdict Don't hesitate to purchase this beautifully written gem, which is certain to shoot to the top of the charts, if not start a craze for "everything Moran." [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/12.]-Audrey Jones, Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.