Thursday, October 10, 2013

Napoleon, author

Gallic Books has published Clisson and Eugénie, a love story penned, sort of, by Napoleon Bonaparte. It tells a tragic tale of the military officer, Clisson, who falls deeply in love with and marries Eugénie but then must follow his country's call to duty. He may be away for years. Will his wife stay true, or will she succumb to the handsome officer who carries Clisson's messages to her? It's a premise with promise, as Napoleon obviously based Clisson on himself and lived an eventful life. The introduction calls the story a novel, but it's more a novelty. The entire book is 80 pages, with the story itself being 20 pages.

Why so short? Well, N had a full-time job ravaging Europe, so he wrote only a few pages that became scattered, later reassembled, and when necessary re-imagined by historian Peter Hicks. The result, claims the cover blurb, reveals N as "an accomplished writer of fiction."

No, it doesn't. It's 19th-century romantic fare told with little plot or detail. Perhaps it shines a light on how N thought of himself, and it's reasonably readable and interesting. Typical lines:

He began to tire of serving men who did not value him. He felt the need to retreat into himself. For the first time, he turned his gaze upon his life, his inclinations and his situation.

The writing's not awful, but it has a lot of declarative sentences. Bottom line: If you like romance fiction, skip this one. If Napoleon himself interests you, borrow this from the library.

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