the French people back from the abyss of chaos and misrule, Napoleon Bonaparte
is on the brink of declaring himself emperor. “An empire is a Republic that has
been enthroned,” he says. And so history is made.
As Napoleon stands at the precipice of his new
empire, Jean d’Ormesson’s novel The Conversation: The Night Napoleon
Changed the World captures a
fictional conversation in which the thirty-year-old, struggling between
revolutionary ideals and his overwhelming thirst for power, declares his secret
intention to ascend the throne. Second Consul Jean-Jacques Cambacérès, a
brilliant law scholar and close ally, bears witness to the birth of this
self-created legend: a man who left his mark upon time not through birth, but
with ambition, and whose hubris is still invoked as a cautionary tale. Their
imagined conversation brilliantly captures the tenuous moment when one man’s
dream becomes reality. History, of course, records Napoleon’s dizzying triumphs
and subsequent fall.
I read this Napoleon novel as part of France Book Tours (they always offer me the most original treasures!). I loved it from the get-go and at a little over 100 pages, it was a breeze to read. And- As the saying goes with wonderful things coming in small packages- this one truly is a jewel!
If you are a Napoleon lover, you will find that this glimpse into a slice of Bonaparte's life through a conversation with Cambaceres, the Second Consul (and the man who helped Napoleon write the Napoleonic Code), truly fantastic! This conversation, although relatively brief, is chock-full with the recounting of Bonaparte's life in a nutshell. His conquests are relived, re-thought and contemplated upon. But it's not all about battles and conquests...the man actually shares feelings and thoughts regarding family, Josephine and more.
Napoleon and Cambaceres, who besides their common goals regarding work (the ruling of France!), discussing, reminiscing and encouraging each other ( praising, chastising and recommending as well!) speak candidly as two ordinary men would. THE CONVERSATION, brings a sense of humanity to Bonaparte through an exchange that could absolutely have taken place. It brings us to a deeper level within the man, where other books have rather concentrated on his mind.
It's not all filled with serious stuff and in particular, because it is a conversation, so much more is brought to the reader- and that is what is most entertaining. At one point Napoleon talks about 'the Shawl' episode in his life (pertaining to his sister and Josephine)- a gossipy banality- but a reality in Napoleon's life that actually caused family drama. Napoleon shares how distressed such family conflicts affect him. I enjoyed reading these tid-bits that helped bring this larger- than- life persona to a credible and feeling 'regular guy' (if that's even possible with Napoleon!).
Transported right into the room, beside these two men, I felt almost privileged in taking part of this great conversation. History buffs, you need this one on your shelf!
the Author Jean d’Ormesson is the author of more than fifteen
books, has a PhD in philosophy, graduated from the École Normale, and is a
distinguished member of the Académie Française. He lives in Paris. About the Translator
has translated a number of books from French, including Brassaï’s Henry Miller: The Paris Years, Emmanuel
Carrère’s I Am Alive and You Are Dead:
A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick,
and Stéphane Audeguy’s novel, The Theory
of Clouds. A former editor at Arcade Publishing, St. Martin’s Press, and
Harcourt, he is currently Executive Editor, Trade, at Oxford University Press
in New York, where he focuses upon history, biography, and current events.
What would it be like for you and your loved one to
pick up and relocate to another country? How about Provence?!
Anne-Marie Simons and husband, Oscar, did just that a few years ago when they moved from their home in the US, and have never looked back since. Do you blame them? Aix-en-Provence, according to Anne-Marie's book, Taking Root in Provence, is one festive day after another. There are saints' days, Corridas, season and harvest days- it's one holiday after another. Even on regular days it would seem the people of Provence are celebrating something!
Being surrounded by friends, family and outrageously delicious food has to count for something..Taking Root in Provence fills you with the need to buy airfare and go! There is a sense of people taking the time to savour life, not just while eating and celebrating- it's the day-to-day in Provence that adds colour and dimension to people's lives. Even a trip to the butcher can entail conversation that has one walking out with more than just fresh meat.
Extremely entertaining and well-written, Taking Root in Provence, whisked me away to open-air eating with a nice glass of wine one day- to a Corrida the next (historically, Provence has a strong Spanish influence and even their own dialect). I loved reading about Simons' customary- after- lunch hikes (the French love hiking- no wonder they're so fit!). And in between lunch and hiking? Lying under a tree and taking a little 'sieste' is de rigueur.
Do you need to get away, even if just mentally? Taking Root in Provence is an absolute- must- read! With all this packed info on Provence, you can absolutely use it as a guide...but honestly, you will devour this gem for the essence and sheer pleasure it brings. Taking Root in Provencee immerses you into France, and begs you to embrace Provence's ways...who can refuse to taste a bit of this dreamy life? Speaking of taste, at the back of the book, Oscar shares some delectable recipes.
Join Anne-Marie Simons in her new dreamy life in Provence...You won't want this book to end!
Two expatriates left Washington DC in search of the ideal place
to retire where climate, culture, accessibility and natural beauty all had a
role to play. Curious about the vaunted quality of life in the south ofFrance, they traveled the length and width of Provence
where, preferring the city to the countryside, they decided to settle in the
ancient town of Aix-en-Provence. That was in 1998 and Taking Root in Provence
is the story of their slow integration into theFrenchmainstream
— both easier and more difficult than expected but ultimately successful.
In a series of vignettes Anne-Marie Simons gives us a
warts-and-all picture of life among theFrenchand with warmth and humor shares her
lessons learned. Contrary to most publications about Provence, thisbookfocuses
on life in the city rather than the quiet countryside, and promises to be both
informative and revealing to those who want to spend more than a passing
holiday here. [from the author's website]
My Beloved Enchanted by Josephine site will go back to its original purpose: My writing and researching of all that is historical- with Josephine as my muse.
With time, it seems that Enchanted By Josephine,
slowly got eaten up SOLELY by Book Reviews and Giveaways - so I thought
I had better create a new place for all my Book Loving Stuff (which
includes my reviews, interviews and Giveaways), and let Enchanted by Josephine thrive with my writing and research focused mainly on historical women, as originally planned.
So now where will all my bookish musings get posted??
wanted to create a place where historical fiction book lovers could
come read all that's bookish...And more-so, I wanted it to be a place
where we can learn even more about who's behind the book:
The Author, the Reader, the Reviewer.
HF Book Muse- News will not only focus on all book-related news (upcoming releases, new events, books-into-movies, Giveaways...and of course Reviews!).
In addition, a large part of this site will be dedicated to Author
news, Reader and Reviewer news, Interviews (Lists, lists, lists!)- plus
interesting insights and posts for all who love history
and historical fiction.
With time I've discovered my passion for learning more about the people behind the books (all of us HF lovers!) and I particularly
love interviews and guest posts. These are
wonderful channels for authors and readers to get better acquainted- so
there will be a strong tendency towards these:) I'm open to suggestions
and would love for you to contact me if you're interested!
To read more and for more info please hop on over to my new site to read more: HF BOOK MUSE- NEWS
AS FOR THIS SITE- Please keep following for my historical research articles and fun tid-bits- I'll still be writing here!
BUT- I don't want to lose you all, so if you want to keep reading my interviews, book reviews and enter my Giveaways, please go to HF BOOK MUSE- NEWS- I'd really appreciate that:))
To celebrate there will be a Smashing Opening Giveaway soon...so I hope you'll be there!
Miss K. stands for legendary icon and more, Catharina “Toto”
Koopman.Born in Indonesia in 1908- her
father was Dutch and her mother was half Indonesian with Chinese ancestry.And although at the time this was cause for
much prejudice and segregation, Toto did not seem affected by this at all. In
fact, she became to be the first- and very acclaimed bi-racial celebrity
model.Under the tutelage of Coco
Chanel, Toto became famous in her own right, spearing ahead to become more than
just a glamourous model.
Not only was Toto gorgeous and exotic, she was also very
strong-minded with exceptional optimism even at the harshest of times in her life.Her beauty and wits- not to mention her flaunting
independence- made Toto notorious as a woman who made her mark in 20th
century Europe.She spoke several
languages, was well-versed in the arts (a muse for one of the most important
galleries from the 40’s to the 70’s that launched famous artists), was a
fashion enigma, a spy for the resistance during World War II – and she survived
This adventuress woman, whose quest for independence had no
limits, lived an outrageously unconventional life- even her romances had no
sexual boundaries or gender preference. Toto really was unique and outstanding
in all that she lived- almost to the point of it sounding surreal were it not
for the true historical accounting for it all.
The Many Lives of Miss K., by Jean-Noel Liaut is a
fascinating read.There is nothing
missing in terms of accuracy and delicious recounting of the history
itself.And although at times it reads
quite factually, the book is chock-full of very personal, insightful,
brow-raising, shocking, and extremely interesting information, that I just
could not put this down.
The Many Lives of Miss K.:A definite page-turner that unfolds the life of a spectacular individual
whose life could not be more incredible if it were fiction!
Check out the tour at FRANCE BOOK TOURS, to read more reviews and enter the other Giveaways: