I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.
The Second Empress opens just as Emperor Napoleon is about to divorce his first wife, the Empress Josephine. For his second wife, he chooses the late Marie Antoinette's great-niece Marie-Louise, who is the daughter of the King of Austria.
We hear from Marie, along with Napoleon's sister Pauline, and her Haitian chamberlain Paul Moreau. Each of their narratives are separated by chapters. I found it sort of random that we would hear from the two women who would be closer to Napoleon, and then hear from Paul. However, hearing from someone outside of the Bonaparte family, outside of royalty, was for the reader. He was there to show us what was really going on, which was beneficial, seeing as how Pauline was off her rocker.
Marie was an interesting character. She was just 18 when she became Napoleon's second Empress, and provided him a son within a year. She grew up fast, and matured despite the fact that she hated where she was, and wanted nothing more to return to Austria.
The book read really fast, and was a decent read. I don't know much about the time period, at least about France, so I don't know where liberties were taken. I was put off by some of the Americanisms. Those stuck out like a sore thumb. Anyway, a good book, not spectacular, nothing to rave about.