Today I have a lovely speculative historical novella in translation from the original French. Please be sure to check the other tour stops, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway where you can be one of 3 lucky US winners for a hardcover copy of the title!!
History has always fascinated me, and the motivations and justifications of the people in the mix is always intriguing. Using words from Napoleon, although not necessarily strung together in this order, Jean d’Ormesson has imagined a conversation between Napoleon and his 2nd most powerful ally in the early rebuilding of the French government after the deposition of the King. While this conversation is fictional, d’Ormesson lays out Napoleon’s own words, beliefs and statements to present a logical argument for his eventual declaration of himself as Emperor, as he bounces the ideas off a willing and intelligent ear.
While it is important to realize that Cambacérès was an ally, he also was one of those political animals, flexible enough to dance attendance on the power at the moment while he carefully kept his options open should change require a change in allegiance. Some of Cambacérès ‘flexibility’ is remarked upon by Bonaparte during this discussion with a sense that he sees the animal as it is, not as it wishes to be seen, and can accept the self-preservation instincts that necessitate this seeming uncommitted approach.
Full of complaints about foolhardy friends and relations, a lack of cooperation from new allies, and the still infantile steps toward the republic of France that he envisions, Bonaparte has taken the people’s mandate, their wish for order, opportunity and peace, and balanced that against his belief that a strong hand with clear forward thinking vision will bring the country back to a functional and leading company in the world.
While this was quick reading, the most outstanding thought is of Bonaparte’s ability to project his wishes and desires forward, and logically intuit the next step needed to bring every element into place, the supreme marionette master, expecting all to dance attendance but stacking the deck so the choice he wants becomes the only worthy one. Basing his choices on the Roman Empire rather than on some re-designed Bourbon legacy, these careful choices show his logical thought toward an end.
The only question then, is what went wrong? History tells us that he failed, although in spectacular fashion after leaving his mark on France and Europe that will not be soon forgotten. Jean d’Ormesson leaves readers with a new sense of Napoleon the man, and may encourage more to explore his rule more carefully.
Title: The Conversation: The Night Napoleon Changed The World
Author: Jean d'Ormesson
Genre: Historical Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction
Published by: Arcade Publishing
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After pulling 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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
As stated earlier, I have the opportunity to give 3 US readers a hardcover copy of this title: must be 18 or older to enter with a verifiable US mailing address. Contest will end at 23.59 on 10 December (EST) and winners have 24 hours to respond. Prize supplied by publisher.