The Best: biography of Napoleon

Friends and students (I teach French online through Skype), often ask me advice about books. Suddenly I thought that I might as well share with all of you, so this may become some type of memes.

Yesterday, I was asked what would be the best biography of Napoleon.

After a bit of research, it seems the best biography so far is

Napoleon

It is 926 pages long and was published in November 2014.
It received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography (2014).

Then I realized it was already on my TBR shelf!

I also found 2 fascinating lists, with a short summary for each book, here and here.
And I read a good historical novel set in Napoleon’s court:
Second Empress
Click on the cover to access  my review
Other good novels related to Napoleon:
The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour
and
For The King
HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE?
WHICH BIOGRAPHY OR NOVEL 
ON NAPOLEON
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
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Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

Nonfiction-November-2015-300x300

Click on the logo to see the detailed schedule
#nonficnov

Doing Dewey is organizing a fun month around nonfiction! Here is the topic for week 2, hosted by Regular Rumination:

Book Pairings:

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title.
It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!”
or just two titles that you think would go well together.
Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history
by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Today, I’m offering you 4 novels paired with 4 nonfiction books, all related to France!
8 books I enjoyed a lot

Click on the covers to access my reviews

BOOK PAIRING #1
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

 Marie Antoinette's Head    Madame Tussaud

BOOK PAIRING #2
WWII – THE RESISTANCE

 The Cost of Courage   Citadel

BOOK PAIRING #3
PARIS – LA SEINE RIVER

 Bridges of Paris   The Bookseller

BOOK PAIRING #4
PROVENCE

 Taking Root in Provence    Promise of Provence

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE?
WOULD YOU HAVE ANOTHER
FRENCH BOOK PAIRING COMING TO MIND?

Confessions of Marie Antoinette: review. I love France #67

 

I LOVE FRANCE!

I plan to publish this meme every Thursday.

You can share here about any book

or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !

Feel free to grab my button,

and link your own post through Mister Linky,

at the bottom of this post.

*******

Confessions of Marie Antoinette
(Marie Antoinette #3)

by

Juliet GREY

Release date: tomorrow, September 24, by Random House/Ballantine

464 pages

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book as an egalley for free from  the publisher
via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.

onfessions of Marie Antoinette

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     Books on France          hf-reading-challenge-2013   2013 Ebook Challenge

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

rating system

As I read the first volume of this trilogy, Becoming Marie Antoinette, then the second, Days Of Splendor, Days of Sorrow, I thought I had to read the last one: Confessions of Marie Antoinette.

My favorite of all three remains the first. Though it sounds like the author read my review of the second: in the third volume, there are far less French words used, and with fewer mistakes as well. There are still some, but not as many as to make me list them as I did in my 2nd review!

In this book, we are just before and during the French Revolution, and eventually the arrest and death of both Louis and then Marie Antoinette.

I’m very divided about this book. I do acknowledge that the author seemed to have done a lot of serious research about her main character. But sometimes I had the feeling she wanted to crammed in all the information she had found, and it didn’t seem she was too successful at integrating these data in the novel format.

I guess there’s also a good sense of urgency and suspense, though having studied over and over again these events in history classes, I could not feel any effect of surprise.

Not sure the character of Louison, a young sculptress witness to the events, was all that necessary, at least the way she was presented. When she appeared in the story, I could not but think of how Michelle Moran used another artist, Madame Tussaud, to draw her majestic painting of the French Revolution. Madame Tussaud was at the heart of the story, stuck between royalists and revolutionaries, therefore telling the story from her point of view was pure genius. Louison here is not enough present to make her a significant voice.

The art of historical fiction is very difficult, and I have run into fantastic writers recently, so I guess I’m getting very choosy, and I expect a perfect merge of data into a novel form, not suddenly a few pages that look like my French history text books.

Also, if I consider the whole trilogy, I’m not sure I’m in the presence of the same character. People evolve, definitely, but I did not feel any smooth transition between the superficial Marie Antoinette of the 2nd volume and the mother so loving towards her children in the third.

Again, I may be comparing Juliet Grey to too high a standard, as I remember the amazing evolution of the character of Cromwell between the first and second volumes by Hilary Mantel. But, hey, if someone is able to do it at perfection, it IS possible to attain and repeat, maybe.

Having visited La Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette was held a prisoner at the end of her life, made some scenes very real to me. My friend guide at the Basilica of Saint Denis, where she has been reburied, (have you seen my pictures of this gorgeous church?) even told me that every week, some devotees bring red roses to put on her tomb!

So whether this book really tells Marie Antoinette’s confessions or not, she is still dear to the heart of many people!

Conciergerie 1

secretary officeThe secretary office . He kept a record of all the belongings of the prisoners as they entered

Marie Antoinette’s cell has been reconstituted:

Marie-Antoinette's cell 1As you can see, she was under the constant vigilance of a guard, after she tried to escape – she almost made it!
Juliet has many pages on these guards and Marie Antoinette in her cell.

Marie-Antoinette's cell 2I wrote a special post on La Conciergerie, with more pictures, and more details on its history.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

 Confessions of Marie Antoinette, the riveting and sweeping final novel in Juliet Grey’s trilogy on the life of the legendary French queen, blends rich historical detail with searing drama, bringing to life the early years of the French Revolution and the doomed royal family’s final days.

Versailles, 1789. As the burgeoning rebellion reaches the palace gates, Marie Antoinette finds her privileged and peaceful life swiftly upended by violence. Once her loyal subjects, the people of France now seek to overthrow the crown, placing the heirs of the Bourbon dynasty in mortal peril.

Displaced to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, the royal family is propelled into the heart of the Revolution. There, despite a few staunch allies, they are surrounded by cunning spies and vicious enemies. Yet despite the political and personal threats against her, Marie Antoinette remains above all a devoted wife and mother, standing steadfastly by her husband, Louis XVI, and protecting their young son and daughter. And though the queen and her family try to flee, and she secretly attempts to arrange their rescue from the clutches of the Revolution, they cannot outrun the dangers encircling them, or escape their shocking fate. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juliet Grey

Juliet Grey
has extensively researched European royal history
and is a particular devotee of Marie Antoinette.
She and her husband divide their time
between New York City and southern Vermont.
[Goodreads]

 

WHICH OF THE THREE VOLUMES OF THIS TRILOGY
DO YOU PREFER
?

***

Just a reminder guys:

If you link your own post on France,

please if possible

include the title of the book or topic in your link:

name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):

example : me @ myblog (Camus)

Thanks!