The Second Empress by Michelle Moran
A Novel of Napoleon's Court

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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.

About Michelle Moran

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MICHELLE MORAN's experiences at archaeological sites around the world motivated her to write historical fiction and continue to provide inspiration for her novels. She is the author of the national bestseller Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter, and Madame Tussaud. Visit her online at
Published August 14, 2012 by Broadway Books. 369 pages
Genres: History, Romance, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Although she initially befriends the young second empress, Pauline continues to machinate against her, particularly after Marie-Louise gives birth to Napoleon’s longed-for male heir, Franz.

Aug 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Second Empress: A Novel o...


In "The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court" by Michelle Moran, the lives of Marie-Louise of Austria and Pauline Bonaparte, the other important women in Napoleon's life shine.

Sep 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Second Empress: A Novel o...

Book Reporter

As much as Napoleon’s early life was consumed by war and power, few battles are covered here (only Waterloo, Leipzig, and the invasion of Russia, briefly.) The book is more of a character study about Napoleon’s carnal appetites and idiosyncrasies --- his wicked thoughts, the women he loved, seduc...

Aug 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Second Empress: A Novel o...

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While sharing the story between three different narrators may make for a fast-paced read it also leaves the Pauline is infinitely more interesting than her sister-in-law, which might leave fans wondering why Moran didn’t opt to write The Second Bonaparte instead.

Jul 27 2012 | Read Full Review of The Second Empress: A Novel o...

City Book Review

The cries of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité!” were mere echoes of the past when Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself the new ruler of France.

Dec 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Second Empress: A Novel o...

The Best Reviews

Michelle Moran has written a novel about the courtly life of Napoleon Bonaparte and his family.

Sep 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Second Empress: A Novel o...

Red Room

Her new novel, The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court revives the next chapter in French history.

Jun 29 2012 | Read Full Review of The Second Empress: A Novel o...

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