Cover Image: Finding Napoleon

Finding Napoleon

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Member Reviews

Imaginative and well-told, this is very good historical fiction told by an author displaying her talent for character and story. It felt like the author did her research, and helps the reader feel like they're there at times. Most historical fiction fans will probably enjoy this.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
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This book is a well researched, incredibly creative, remarkable and tragic story of the final days of the man whose name rules history. Unlike the most highlighted years of his life, the conflicting politics under his rule, this book introduces us to an older Napoleon in exile sans title, power and followers. Far away in the remote island in the company of a handful of people who called themselves his followers, he reflected on his life, battles, losses and betrayals. He planned and plotted many failed escapes with the help of locals including African slaves, a merchant and his long time friend Francesco Cipriani. I loved the part where Napoleon accepted a straw hat from a slave and understood its priceless value. 
Here we learn of his final love affair with Albine de Montholon, faded in the pages of history. As we move through Napoleon's thoughts we can sketch Albine as selfish, a liar, and a thief. But when we read her chapters we understand the dimensions between which her motives and actions stretched. Albine understood the Emperor better and loved him with respect. However, they had different worlds to enter outside of the cage of St. Helena. If only circumstances were different there love could have been unconditional. But in a revolutionary world, constancy is a challenge, and betrayals are helpless actions.
Overall, I loved the story telling, all the characters, actions, love and the historical events intertwined with fiction. Rodenberg has immaculately weaved the incomplete pieces of Napoleon's novel, filling gaps and creating an epic story resonating with the disposition of the Emperor, thus, bringing the man behind the title to life. Finding Napoleon catches the man behind the fearless Emperor - lonely, skeptical and helpless. It envisions an understanding of his character and the passions that drove him to his actions.
I would definitely recommend this book to all Historical Fiction lovers and those looking for a great piece of literature.
Thank you Netgalley and She writes press for this amazing arc.
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I received this novel as an ARC from NetGalley. It is a story of Napoleon but is fiction, imagining his time spent in exile.  I found it compelling that he he had once wanted to write a novel.
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Drawn from real characters and events, this Historical Fiction novel is about Napoleon at different stages in his life, much at St. Helena.  I always wonder how characters were/could be like in different relationships  Catching personal glimpses is fascinating.  The author imagines how things could have transpired through different characters' perspectives, mostly those of Napoleon and Albine as well as integrating the Clisson story, the unfinished novella by Napoleon of which I knew very little.  

Sounds interesting, right?  Well, it is.  Albine was Napoleon's last love but to me the romance lacks depth so feels a bit flat.  The historical aspects are my favourite part of the book and obviously well researched.  What didn't work for me was that the story didn't seem to push forward.  I liked it but sadly didn't love it, especially Albine's choices.  But that's just me.

My sincere thank you to She Writes Press and NetGalley for the eARC!
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Finding Napoleon is a fictionalized account of the final days of Napoleons second reign and subsequent exile, until his death. In addition to expanding on what is widely known or believed regarding his affairs and relationships, it takes an in depth look at what life on Sainte Helena was like. It also included the story of Clisson, a novel Napoleon had started to write but never actually finished.

I really enjoyed this book and it makes me want to study Napoleon more, including his first wife Josephine and especially his son. I really liked that although this book has been fictionalized, it’s not outrageously so. The point of view given by Albine, Napoleons final mistress, is complex in how easy it is to hate her; she’s a liar, a thief, and generally is only looking out for herself. With that in mind, I really liked reading her chapters and understanding what made her the way she was.

This book also hit home the fact of, when you’re on top of the world, everyone has their knives pointing up at you. There is no way to discern the traitors from your friends and at that point, you just have to guess and hope you chose correctly. Even if you’re Napoleon Bonaparte, the lesson is true all the same.

My favorite quote from the book is about the slavery in use on Saint Helena; at least in the book, it is one of Napoleon’s everlasting regrets. After being gifted a straw hat made by a slave, Napoleon says “No price can be placed on a slave’s labor freely given” regardless of whether Napoleon actually said this or not, this quote resonated with me.

Overall, I really liked the historical aspects of the book while still involving romance and action. The book was easy to read and enjoy. About the middle of the book the pacing really slows down, however.

ARC was provided by published via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A well-thought out and researched novel portraying the life of Napoleon after his second exile to the island of St. Helena. Rodenberg does a magnificent job of weaving a story of an older Napoleon reflecting on his life and being enlightened to his triumphs, his mistakes, and his losses— with his writing of a novel that he carried with him since he was in his 20s. The real novel, incomplete at Napoleon’s death, is woven throughout the story as Napoleon works on it’s completion primarily with the help of his love, Albine de Montholon, a young girl named Betsy, and the young slave that became a son to him over the years, Tobyson. The author has filled in the blanks of Napoleon’s story, using research, and keeps the transitions between his words and hers virtually seamless. There are so many interesting characters that share life on the island and the story makes you want to learn more. Always make sure to read the Authors Note— lots of great information and backstory there. It was very interesting to read about the research, the real and fictional characters and aspects of the book, and the history. Thanks to NetGalley and She Write Press for this ARC. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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3.5 stars

France, 1769. After losing everything, defeated Napoleon flees to the British shore and pleads with the British politicians to take him in. Instead, they exile him to a remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. On the same ship, there are a few people who remain loyal to Bonaparte. Among them Charles de Montholon with his wife Albine, who becomes Napoleon’s lover.

Once on the island, Napoleon is under watchful eye of the British guards as he escaped from the island of Elba in the past. They want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He does plot another escape and he needs help. Thus, he befriends certain island’s inhabitants to help him in his endeavor.

Once on the island, the pace of the story slows. There are descriptions and dialogue that don’t move the story forward.

The premise of the story is interesting. I’ve read other novels about Napoleon and was looking forward to reading this story as this one is uniquely set on the island after his defeat. And the plotting is interesting; I just wished it had a faster pace.

The idea of integrating Napoleon’s attempt at writing a novel is interesting too. However, it disrupts the flow. The narrative between Napoleon and Albine is smooth, but once the third narrative of the story written by Napoleon is introduced the flow feels choppy.

The story starts strong and I felt connected to the characters initially, but I lost that connection once on the island.

If you like stories that take time with descriptions, then you may still find this book engaging.
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Napoleon. Now there's a name that comes with some preconceptions. It's difficult to get around the power of history and legend to get a glimpse at the complicated human behind it all, but FINDING NAPOLEON manages it—and manages it beautifully.

The book follows Napoleon and his entourage through his final years in exile on the island of St. Helena, a period I had heard about in passing but really knew very little about. There are thwarted escape attempts and intrigue, including an attempted slave revolt, which I enjoyed enormously. But the real triumph of FINDING NAPOLEON is the creation of Napoleon himself as a complete man: tired, proud, ornery, regretful, determined, resigned. The author brings him to life masterfully. We don't excuse his excesses or missteps, but we start to think we can understand them.

The book also makes beautiful use of the conceit of a novel the historical Napoleon started writing in his twenties. It's fascinating to see Napoleon engaging in his own myth-making, while at the same time trying to make sense of his own history as he arrives at the end of his life.

As a less-important note, I am now obsessed with the character of Cipriani and will need to do my own side research into this quirky and suspicious man.

Historical fiction fans and Napoleonic enthusiasts will love FINDING NAPOLEON. I did!
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A book about the lesser known final years of Napoleon.
What I loved:
I liked that it was about a lesser known part of history. The book also had short chapters and the writing style read very easily.
What I didn't love:
The story didn't really go anywhere and I couldn't really connect with the characters. The parts from Napoleons perspective where the most interesting, but Albines part didn't really add to the story in my opinion. 
Conclusion
A book for people with a love for the history of Napoleon.
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Finding Napoleon is about his last mistress Albine de Montholon.  The book is mostly narrated by Albine, but obviously when she isn't around Napoleon must narrate his parts.  There is also sections of the actual novella that Napoleon wrote, Clisson and Eugenie.  I seem to be in the minority on this book, it was just okay for me, I never did feel pulled in and there were actually times I didn't really even want to continue reading.  It felt formulated and predictable, and I never felt emotional about the characters.  Not every book is for everyone, but I do hope others truly enjoy it, read what you love.  Thank you #NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to give my voluntary and honest opinion on #FindingNapoleon.
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"Finding Napoleon" covers the period of Napoleon's life when he was exiled to St Helena and kept a prisoner there until his death. Ageing and sickening, his current situation is interspersed with excerpts of a novel he is working on about a young man that is in many ways autobiographical. The novel also equally takes the point of view of other characters, in particularly his lover Albine, whose story is particularly moving as she has to balance her loyalties while she too is a prisoner.

I thought this book was beautifully written, some of the language almost poetic - not the sort of book that grabs you and demands you read it all now, but more one to quietly savour in small doses. My only reservation with it was that there were a lot of side characters and some of them did not seem to be fleshed out all that much, so I got some of them confused with each other - but as a lot of the characters are based on real people, I suppose this is only to be expected.
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An interesting novel, notably for the research involved in writing it. I too am a fan of French history, and Napoleon is a fascinating subject. I had heard the theory that he got arsenic poisoning from the wallpaper, but never considered him poisoning himself.  It may, as the author avers, have been stomach cancer, but as the author rightly says, we have no way of knowing what caused his death,. His life was incredible,  an example of social mobility at its finest, because he became Emperor of  France from relatively humble roots in Corsica. A good read, thank you to netgalley and the publishers for letting me read an advance copy of this book.
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