Michelle Moran’s newest novel The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court was an enchanting tale of madness and corruption found in Napoleon’s court. Napoleon has pulled himself up from being a boy living on the small island of Corsica to being, at least in his mind, the next Alexander the Great. He took control of France, took countless artifacts from his wars in Egypt, and is now setting his sights on the rest of Europe. Marie-Louise, or Maria-Louisa to her family, has been forced to marry Napoleon or else put her entire country of Austria at war. Napoleon is anxious for an heir and has cast aside his wife Josephine hoping to have children with his next wife. Marie-Louise has royal blood that goes back centuries. Royal blood is what Napoleon craves but lacks and he believes his heirs with her royal blood will be unstoppable . Life is not easy in Napoleon’s court because no one knows what will anger him and his favorite sister is a constant rival for his attention.
This was an incredible book. I loved that it was told from three perspectives, Marie-Louise, Pauline and Paul, Pauline’s chamberlain. Having the multiple views really lets the reader see how the court works and the manipulations involved in daily life. Moran did such a great job of giving her novel a historic feel with her language and descriptions. It was so easy to picture France and the beauty as well as the turmoil of living under an unstable tyrant ruler. This is a great read for any fan of historical fiction.