Review: The Second Empress by Michelle Moran

Product Details

  • File Size: 1970 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B0074VPJFE
  • Publisher: Crown (August 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007IM12T6
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction


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 that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.
Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.
As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.
Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.

Read an Excerpt here.

My Review:

Having already read, “Madame Tussand” by Melanie Moran, I was excited to read more from this brilliant author.  Michelle Moran does not disappoint in “The Second Empress” and provides a glimpse into the lives of Napoleon and Maria Lucia.  Told in 3 different perspectives, the reader is able to get a well rounded picture of what was happening during Napoleon’s reign and self-destruction.  I found it rather interesting, however that Napoleon’s perspective is onlty given through the form of letters, as well as Maria-Lucia’s father’s letters to her.  While we sympathize with sacrifice of a Hapsburg Princess, it was quite sad to hear of the heartache Josephine felt being removed as Queen.

Michelle Moran has a wonderful gift to paint this beautiful picture of France and Austria, the castles,  and extravagant attire, Michelle gives a glimpse into the relationships forged by Maria-Lucia, Pauline and her sexual lifestyle, and Paul-the Haitian Chamberlain of Pauline.  Michelle writes about the inappropriate love relationship between Pauline and Napoleon and Pauline’s own mental demise.  I loved every moment of this book, even the grandiose attitude of Napoleon, and I quietly cheered for Maria-Lucia’s escape back to Austria with her little son.

This is a book that will provide rich detail into French history, the tyranny of Napoleon, his love for Josephine and absolute power and world domination, as well as the relationship between Maria Lucia and Hortense.  When Maria Lucia enters into the castle for the first time and thinks back to her great-aunt, Marie Antoinette, I was glad to have read “Madame Tussand” first.  The infamous mirror hallway, the extravagant clothes, and how she often thought back to what her aunt must have felt and experienced.

This is a gem of a book and I highly encourage anyone that loves history, love stories, and just a great book, should pick this one up!

*This book was provided by NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation was given.


About the Author:

Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer’s Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.

Michelle has traveled around the world, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. She is the international bestselling author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra’s Daughter and Madame Tussaud. Her fifth novel, The Second Empress, will be released on August 14, 2012.

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