Venus of Empire
Anchor Books, Paperback, 9780307277930, 287pp.
Publication Date: March 9, 2010
Considered by many in Europe to be the most beautiful woman at the turn of the nineteenth century, Pauline Bonaparte Borghese shocked the continent with the boldness of her love affairs, her opulent wardrobe and jewels, her decision to pose nearly nude for Canova's sculpture, and her rumored incestuous relationship with her brother, the Emperor Napoleon--the only man to whom she was loyal. When Napoleon was exiled to Elba, Pauline was the only sibling to follow him there, and after the final defeat at Waterloo she begged to join him at Saint Helena.
In Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire, Flora Fraser casts new light on the Napoleonic era and crafts a dynamic, vivid portrait of a mesmerizing woman.
“Scandalous . . . Memorable . . . [A] juicy portrait of Napoleon's most flamboyant and favored sibling. . . . Pauline was, Fraser admits, ‘a terrible model.’ Which is, of course, why she's such fun to read about.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Flora Fraser has plucked [Pauline Bonaparte] from the shadows and, through archives, diaries and letters, reveals one of the most colorful, crafty and intriguing women of the 19th century.” —The Washington Times
“Entertaining. . . . Pauline's life of scandal and intrigue makes for a page-turning read.” —The Economist
“Intriguing. . . . With funny glimpses of [Napoleon’s] domestic life away from the battlefield.” —The Star-Ledger (Newark)
"Without gilding this slightly tarnished Bonaparte lily, Flora Fraser encourages us to admire Pauline for the infinite vigour and resourcefulness of her buccaneering, even at its most teasingly self-indulgent. The success of a biography of an unimproving subject like this is whether or not we miss them at its close. Pauline . . . was clearly irresistible company." —Literary Review (UK)
“Lively and enjoyable. . . . it’s impossible not to be swept along by [Fraser’s] story.” —The Mail on Sunday (UK)
"A moving and subtly feminist achievement . . . Fraser never condescends to her subject . . . She directs rigorous scholarship towards capturing the nuances of a bizarrely flamboyant life. . . . [Told] with elegance and poise . . . A remarkably lifelike portrait." —Standpoint Magazine (UK)
“Miss Fraser tells [Bonaparte’s] story with elegance, colour and style.” —Country Life (UK)
“Was Pauline Bonaparte . . . really as naughty as the British enemy tried to paint her with their propaganda?. . . . Did she really have an incestuous relationship with her brother Napoleon. . . . Was she as bad as history has made out? Read this well-researched book and decide for yourself.” —Folkestone Herald (UK)