Book Reviews

Book Review: Finding Napoleon

By Margaret Rodenberg

Published April 2021

374 pages

Hundreds of books have been written about Napoleon Bonaparte but most focus Napoleon the Emperor.  Not nearly as much attention has been given to his last exile on St. Helena Island or on Napoleon as a person.  This novel does much to rectify that.

A fun little story behind this book:  I had a few hours to kill on a Saturday while one of my sons attended a computer class.  So, I did what I usually do – headed for the nearest Barnes & Noble.  At the entrance, a local author was signing copies of her newest book and she hooked me with her elevator pitch: “When Napoleon was a young man, he tried to write a novel.  I decided to finish it.” 

Finding Napoleon commences just days before the emperor’s final exile to St. Helena Island and is told by Napoleon, his last mistress Albine de Montholon, and through the novel, Clisson.  Stranded on the remote island, surrounded by his last loyal retainers and the British army, Napoleon never stops making plans to escape.  But who can he trust?  Allegiances shift as quickly as the tide.  Even his lover has her own agenda.  As many of his retinue are arrested or killed, Napoleon’s health declines and his plans for escape diminish until eventually the only joy he has left is finishing his novel.

I’ve read quite a bit of Napoleonic history and I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.  The character’s voices are excellent and this author has done something I don’t see very often – she made Napoleon human, with feelings and dreams and an all encompassing love for his son.  Albine was wonderful – even when she was deceitful, her flaws were so poignant that I couldn’t help but feel compassion for her.  For readers who like to know how far from actual events historical fiction wanders, there’s a short fact vs. fiction section that delineates what really happened versus what the author portrayed.

I’m hoping to read more by this author and rated this novel a solid four stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.

Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.

Napoleon Bonaparte

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