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:
1-Throughout history Cleopatra was
(and still is) often much maligned. After your extensive research, what
do you make of this grand ruler?
I actually wrote about this in a separate post,
but essentially, I think that Cleopatra represents the absolute best example of
how history is written by the winner, throughout the ages. Considering that,
with the lone exception of Caesar's account of his time in Alexandria, which
wasn't even written by him, none of the accounts of Cleopatra were written by
anyone who actually knew her. And all of these accounts were written after the
events that made her so famous, or infamous, and I would argue that the picture
of her, and of Mark Antony, was created through the lens provided by someone
who, without a doubt, hated Cleopatra on a personal level, in Octavian.
One thing I tried to keep in mind at all times
was that, in terms of options, Cleopatra was seriously limited. Her army had
been crushed by a motley collection of a couple of Cohorts of the 6th Legion, a
green 28th, and a Legion made of Pompeian leftovers in the 37th. Granted these
were led by Caesar, and although his defeat of her brother-husband Ptolemy and
sister Arsinoe was to her advantage, it had to be instructive to her. Then, 16
years later at Actium, she saw what was supposed to be the strongest navy in
the known world destroyed. Finally, her other major asset, her wealth, didn't
interest Octavian because he knew the location of Egypt's treasury, which was
one of the great secrets of the ancient world.
In a world run and dominated by men, that
really left her one option, and one only, and that was to use the same charms
that ensnared Caesar first, then Mark Antony. Unfortunately for her, much of
that charm was based in her power and wealth, but by the time she met with
Octavian, her power was gone, and as I said, he knew where the money was.
However, I don't think Cleopatra was a
shrinking violet; she was just as ruthless as her male counterparts, for
example. One only has to look at her treatment of her siblings, particularly
Arsinoe, but considering the kind of environment she grew up in, I don't think
it's particularly surprising. Still, of all the historical figures that we know
about, particularly those we know by one name, I think Cleopatra has gotten the
worst treatment by posterity.
2- In your opinion who was the grander leader, Caesar or Mark Anthony?
Not even close; Caesar in a runaway. Consider
that Caesar was never defeated in a campaign, although he did suffer two
tactical setbacks, one at Gergovia and one at Dyrrhachium. Antony, on the other
hand, had a mediocre record, and that is being kind. His Parthian campaign was
an epic disaster, where the vast majority of his casualties weren't caused by a
Parthian arrow or lance, but by his own ineptitude.
That said, there are definitely similarities
between the two generals, mainly in their inability to look at a situation or
problem through anyoneelse's eyes and
viewpoint but their own. And both of them suffered for this failing.
3- Considering your military background, what fascinates you most about ancient
military campaigns- is there anything to be admired and learned from
The level of hardship that the men of the
Legions endured. Consider that at the end of every day, almost without
exception, they had to dig a ditch that was at a minimum of 9 feet deep and 12
feet wide; if they marched for Caesar, it was 12 feet by 15 feet. Then, the
next day, before they continued on the march, they had to fill those ditches
in, then marched for anywhere from 20 to 30 miles, over all types of terrain
and in all types of weather. Day in, day out, rinse, lather, repeat.
Then, in battle, it was very much an "up
close and personal" way of fighting, where you faced your enemy with only
inches between you, which is much different from modern combat. At least most
of the time.
4- Back to Cleopatra: Had there not been that tragic misunderstanding
leading to her death- what do you think the outcome would have been and what
impact would this have had on history?
Honestly, I don't think that the world was big
enough for Cleopatra and Octavian to co-exist, if only because of her son
Caesarion. As long as the true son of Caesar existed, he would present a threat
to the ersatz Caesar, Octavian. And while I suppose it's possible that, in
order to protect the other children Cleopatra had with Mark Antony, she would
have allowed Caearion to be sacrificed, personally I don't see that happening.
And even if she did, how comfortable would Octavian be, knowing that the mother
of the youth that he murdered still lived, just waiting to exact revenge?
Also, how would Cleopatra have reacted to the
idea of having her treasury stripped bare by Octavian, who desperately needed
that money to pay the greedy Legions all the bonuses and pensions they had been
promised? If she had allowed it to happen, then I would argue that, while she
would save herself from Octavian, (perhaps), she would have become a target of
her own subjects.
Ultimately, I don't think the world had a place
5- In terms of research for content, please take us on a brief tour of your
process to gather it all up and turning it into a book.
I started what has become the Marching With
Caesar series in 2008, and let's just say I jumped into the research with both
caligae, and I mean that literally. Since this is based on the experiences of a
man from the ranks, part of my research effort was focused on trying to get a
feel for what it was like to "hump" (which isn't nearly as fun as the
name implies; it's what we Marines call a forced march over rough terrain) as a
Legionary. To that end I bought the entire kit of a Republican-era Legionary,
and drove out to Big Bend National Park in West Texas, which has some of the
most rugged terrain in the country. My reason for choosing Big Bend was only
partially based on the rough country; it's also highly unlikely that any of the
drug smugglers who use the remote area as a major route carry cameras.
From that experience, I moved onto getting a
feel for what it was like to handle a sword, which involved the purchase of a
(already dead) pig that I hung from the rafters of my garage. And a lot of what
I learned made it into the book, particularly with the sword, as I discovered
the hard way the importance of holding the sword with the blade parallel to the
ground, because in the perpendicular the blade will stick in the rib cartilage.
Otherwise, there was the purchase of a LOT of
books, of which a great number were out-of-print volumes from the 19th Century,
when there was a Renaissance of scholarship focused on the Late Republic and
Early Empire period. Most useful were the books of T. Rice-Holmes, along with
T.A. Dodge, and M. Grant. However, the most important works were the primary
sources; Caesar, of course, Plutarch; Dio; Appian, and to a lesser extent
Suetonius, who was essentially the gossip columnist of his day.
6- Lastly, if your series makes it to the Big Screen (could happen!), who would
you see in the roles of Cleo, Caesar and MA?
That is actually closer than you might think,
but that's all I can say at this point.
However, while I've put a lot more thought into
who would play Titus, I will confess to some daydreaming about the other
characters. And while I know this is unoriginal, for Mark Antony it's not even
close; James Purefoy IS Mark Antony, based on his performance in the HBO series
Rome, particularly the second season.
Cleopatra is more problematic, and here I will
admit to some hypocrisy, because of the wonderful cover produced by my cover
artist Marina Shipova. As you have seen, our Cleopatra is very, very easy on
the eye; historically speaking, from the available evidence, the cover isn't an
Lyndsey Marshal, the actress who played
Cleopatra in the series, opposite Purefoy, I think was a good choice because
she was attractive, but had a definite exotic look, in contrast to Elizabeth
Taylor. And she wasn't a classic beauty in the mold of Taylor. I've seen some
websites that have suggested Angelina Jolie (not for my books, but in other
projects) but I think that would be akin to having Liz Taylor playing the role.
For my own personal reasons, I would throw all my objectivity out the window to
lobby hard for Salma Hayek, but that's just me.
Finally, Caesar. Hmmm. Good question. I will
say that my Caesar wouldn't have the full head of hair that Ciaran Hinds
sported, but he would have to be an actor with the appropriate gravitas.
Thank you for this insightful interview with my readers:)
2- For Additional Chances,
post on FB, Twitter, Linkedin, Blog and elsewhere! Just come back and post your
link in comments.
Open to US and Canada
About MARCHING WITH CAESAR: ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, PART II-CLEOPATRA
Publication Date: April 1, 2013 Self-Published Paperback; 598p ISBN-10: 0985703083
the fourth book of the critically acclaimed Marching With Caesar
series, Titus Pullus and his 10th Legion are still in the thick of the
maelstrom that follows after the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar.
With the disastrous campaign in Parthia behind them, Mark Antony
continues his struggle with Octavian, both men vying for ultimate
control of Rome. Enter Cleopatra VII, the Pharaoh of Egypt and mother of
Julius Caesar's son, who harbors ambitions and dreams of her own.
Through her son Caesarion, Cleopatra is a powerful player in her own
right in the continuing drama being played out for control of the most
powerful society on Earth. With Cleopatra combining forces with Mark
Antony, Octavian, the legitimate heir to Caesar's fortune is facing the
most formidable barrier to his ascendancy yet. Through it all, Titus
Pullus and his men must tread a very careful path as the two forces head
for an inevitable showdown at a place called Actium.
About the Author
am a retired Marine, with a primary MOS of 0311, although over the
years I picked up a few other designators, but I guess I will always
think of myself as a grunt. I was born and raised in Houston, and have
only recently relocated to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. After my
medical retirement from the Marines and realizing that my experience at
locating, closing with and destroying the enemy by fire and maneuver
was not exactly going to have employers knocking down my door, I decided
to earn a Bachelor's degree, majoring in History, with a goal of
teaching. Then my daughter came to live with me full-time, and while
thrilled, I learned very quickly that a teacher's salary would not
support her in the style in which she was accustomed.
So I went
into the software business, starting at a small startup that I stayed at
for 10 years, clawing my way to middle management, to echo a commercial
of that era. My company went public, and I had these things called
stock options, so for a brief period of time I was one of those tech
paper millionaires. Then the great NASDAQ crash of 2000 happened, and I
was a working stiff again. When my company got bought in 2006 by one of
the largest software companies in the world, I very quickly learned
that working for a big company was not for me, so I took the lure of the
(relatively) big bucks as a VP of a much smaller company. It was the
worst professional mistake of my life, but the one good thing that did
come out of it is that my dissatisfaction drove me to consider taking a
risk on something that those who know me had pushed me to do as long as I
can remember, and that was to write.
I must admit that I have
always enjoyed writing; in fact; I wrote my first novel at 10ish,
featuring myself and all of my friends from the street where I lived who
almost singlehandedly fought off a Soviet invasion. I was heavily
influenced by WWII history at that time, it being my second historical
passion after the Civil War, so our stockpile of weapons consisted
almost exclusively of Tommy guns, M1's, etc. Why the Russians chose my
particular street to focus their invasion I didn't really go into, but
after a series of savage, bloody battles, my friends and I were forced
to make a strategic withdrawal to the only other part of the world I was
familiar with at that time, the Silverton area of Colorado. I recently
re-read this magnus opus, and it is interesting to track the course of
my friendships with the core group that were the main characters of my
novel. Some sort of argument or disagreement would result in the
inevitable serious wounding of the friend with whom I quarreled, and
depending on how serious it was, they might linger for days, clinging to
life before they recovered, but not after suffering excruciating pain.
that beginning, through my adult life, I was always told that I showed
talent as a writer, but it wasn't until I hit the age of 50 that I
decided it was time to find out if that were true. And the result is
Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul, the first in a completed trilogy
that is the story of one of the lucky few men who managed to survive and
retire, after rising through the ranks of the 10th Legion. I hope that
you enjoy following Titus Pullus' exploits as much as I enjoyed bringing
him to life.
For more information, please visit R.W. Peake's website.