I was very happy when Ms. Purdy contacted me and asked me to read her new book, Two Empresses. She sent me the book at no charge for my honest review.
About Two Empresses:
1779, France. On the island paradise of Martinique, two beautiful, well-bred cousins have reached marriageable age. Sixteen-year-old Rose must sail to France to marry Alexandre, the dashing Vicomte de Beauharnais. Golden-haired Aimee will finish her education at a French convent in hopes of making a worthy match.
Once in Paris, Rose’s illusions are shattered by her new husband, who casts her off when his mistress bears him a son. Yet revolution is tearing through the land, changing fortunes—and fates—in an instant, leaving Rose free to reinvent herself. Soon she is pursued by a young general, Napoleon Bonaparte, who prefers to call her by another name: Josephine.
Presumed dead after her ship is attacked by pirates, Aimee survives and is taken to the Sultan of Turkey’s harem. Among hundreds at his beck and call, Aimee’s loveliness and intelligence make her a favorite not only of the Sultan, but of his gentle, reserved nephew. Like Josephine, the newly crowned Empress of France, Aimee will ascend to a position of unimagined power. But for both cousins, passion and ambition carry their own burden.
From the war-torn streets of Paris to the bejeweled golden bars of a Turkish palace, Brandy Purdy weaves some of history’s most compelling figures into a vivid, captivating account of two remarkable women and their extraordinary destinies.
About the Author:
Brandy Purdy is the author of several historical novels. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, watching classic movies, or spending time with her cat, Tabby. She first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten when she read a book of ghost stories that contained a chapter about the ghost of Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at http://www.brandypurdy.com for more information about her books. You can also follow her via her blog at http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com where she posts updates about her work and reviews of what she has been reading.
I’ve read several books by Ms. Purdy and I’ve enjoyed them. When this new one was offered to me for review I was very excited to be able to read it. It’s the story of two cousins living in Martinique; one who becomes one of the most famous women in history and the other – well she might or might not have become a Sultana.
Our first cousin, Rose is stifled in her life on the Island and longs for what she thinks life in Paris would be like. When opportunity offers her a chance to escape through marriage she jumps and finds her deepest desire has been achieved but not fulfilled. Her marriage is to Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais and he treats her terribly. But those of us that are students of history know well that Rose de Beauharnais will become Josephine Bonaparte.
The second cousin Aimee, I will admit I knew absolutely nothing about prior to reading this book. Her story is not as well known and not as much grounded in fact as in fable. She also went to Paris, but rather than as a bride as a student. As the years pass she longs for a visit from her cousin Rose but as Rose’s life is not living up to the letters she writes to Aimee she is too embarrassed to visit. Ultimately the political climate changes so much as the French Revolution approaches that Aimee’s parents send for her to return home but sadly her ship is….attacked by pirates? Sunk? The historical record is unclear but this novel takes the legend of Nakşidil Sultan and ascribes it to her.
For this tale, Aimee is sold into slavery in the Sultan’s harem but instead of wallowing in sorrow she makes the best of a bad situation. She ultimately falls in love with the Sultan and reportedly he with her. There is much harem intrigue of course and much sadness but she goes on to help create a most progressive Sultan in her adopted son.
The book is probably 3/4s Josephine as far more is known about her life. I found the book interesting if a little repetitive in the sections on Josephine. She was presented as a bit of whiner lacking in any self respect. Perhaps because I’ve read tales of her life before I was far more interested in the story of Aimee but was given far less of a story. I recognize that her half (quarter really) of the book was probably fictional but it was truly more interesting that the Josephine part. Overall an interesting but not exciting read.
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