Book Review: Finding Napoleon by Margaret Rodenberg

Published April 6th 2021 by She Writes Press

Margaret Rodenberg brings us a story of Emperor Napoleon’s defeat and his exile on the Island of Helena in what is still, consider to this day, one of the most remote Island on earth. Finding Napoleon is about his final years and his plot to escape the Island and rescue his son. While on the Island, trust in the people surrounding him is quite the skill to say the least.

In the beginning, I felt as if the characters were moving parts in a play. Told where to stand, what to say and when to say it. I’m not sure that makes much sense but, in better words, I felt very little for them and that very well may be the point. Napoleon was using them and they were using him. We aren’t meant to have warm and fuzzy feelings for these people. They weren’t exactly pillars of society in terms of being moral and honest people. In my opinion, they were opportunist. As for the people of the Island, Tobyson, Hercules and Betsy were good people and despite Napoleon’s faults, they held him in high regard.

While Napoloen’s love affair with Albine wasn’t particularly “romantic”, I felt the author’s portrayal of their relationship realistic. That said, I still haven’t completely decided how I feel about Albine or her relations with Napoleon for that matter. Afterall, she was a married woman and I don’t say this with naivety. I’m well aware of the culture during that time. Maybe she felt she had to do what she did for survival.

Albine is a complex woman and people considered her a liar and a loose woman. Though many of the very people who said those things about her, were no better. In the end, she made good on a promise to Napoleon and I had to admire her for that. I would like to believe that leaving that Island and her changed circumstances in life, made her a better person in the end.

I feel Rosenberg depicted Napoleon’s ego as how I have always imagined it to be. Napoleon is intelligent and he very well knows it. He is always scheming and, in my opinion, using people for his own purpose and pleasures. He is a master manipulator. Despite his thirst for his own glory or survival-if you will-I found his interest in the world and how things worked intriguing to read about. He is a good listener and you do see a softer side to him in this story but I remain-rightfully so- suspicious of his motives.

I’ve read many novels about Napoleon but very little of his time on St. Helena or the end of his life in-depth such as this one. Nor was I familiar with the fact he began to write a story that was unfinished. That was exciting to learn and it intrigued me enough to read this book and wanting to know the author’s take on the history. I can’t help but wonder what his life would have been life if he had chosen a different path. He could have possibly done so much good with his intellect and charismatic personality.

You are reading two different stories with Finding Napoleon and how Rosenberg beautifully weaves Napoleon’s writing efforts into the time line and expanding on the story, is close to brilliant.

I appreciate the author’s obvious fascination with Napoleon. He is definitely a hot topic for discussion and this fact certainly shows in this book.

I recommend Finding Napoleon to readers who are already familiar with Napoleon’s life before his stay on the Island.

Stephanie Hopkins

I obtained a copy from the Publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

More about the book:

With its delightful adaptation of Napoleon Bonaparte’s real attempt to write a novel, Finding Napoleon offers a fresh take on Europe’s most powerful man after he’s lost everything. A forgotten woman of history–Napoleon’s last love, the audacious Albine de Montholon–narrates their tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal.

After the defeated Emperor Napoleon goes into exile on tiny St. Helena Island in the remote South Atlantic, he and his lover, Albine de Montholon, plot to escape and rescue his young son. Banding together African slaves, British sympathizers, a Jewish merchant, a Corsican rogue, and French followers, they confront British opposition–as well as treachery within their own ranks–with sometimes subtle, sometimes bold, but always desperate action.
When Napoleon and Albine break faith with one another, ambition and Albine’s husband threaten their reconciliation. To succeed, Napoleon must learn whom to trust. To survive, Albine must decide whom to betray.

Two hundred years after Napoleon’s death, this elegant, richly researched novel reveals a relationship history conceals.

March: Book Round-Up

Stephanie Hopkins

Well, in my Books Aplenty: March Reading Forecast post, I discussed ten books I selected to read in March. I was I am hoping to read ten books if other projects didn’t get in the way. Umm…other projects got in the way. In the back of my mind, I knew this would happen. Around March is when I tend to feverishly get the crafting bug! There is so much to be inspired by the spring season. Yup, I got my art on. However, I did read six books and that is pretty darn good considering how much time I spent on art.  

Despite not reading all the books I had projected, I’m quite pleased that I’m still reading an average of one to two books per week. That is the point. To read and keep reading. Also, it really helped me be less indecisive in which book to chose next. There really is something to say about being organized and making a list. -Stephanie Hopkins

Number of pages read in March: 1,998

Lots of book reviews coming up soon! How many books did you read for March? Do share!

Here are the titles I’ve read for March and the review post dates:

A New York Secret (Daughters of New York Book 1) by Ella Carey – -My book review HERE

The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker – Book review on April 1st

Finding Napoleon by Margaret Rodenbery -Book review on April 5th

The Family Plot by Megan Collins – Book review on August 12th

The Silent Girl by Kelly Heard- Book review on April 9th

The Necklace by Matt Witten – Book review on September 6th

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Book Spotlight: The Orphan’s Island by Kate Hewitt

I have confessed before that I’m really not into romance novels. I do like some love relationships woven into stories but not as the main focus. Light romance-if you will. I spotted this book on NetGalley and I like the cover and elements of the book description interest me. I’m tempted to read a few reviews seeing as this book has been previously published. -Stephanie

About the book:

Publishers: Bookouture

Historical Fiction | Women’s Fiction

Pub Date 30 Nov 2020

Description

1904: Ellen Copley is still a child when she leaves behind the sooty rail yards of Glasgow, and crosses the Atlantic Ocean with a heart full of dreams. Yet within weeks of their arrival in America, her father has disappeared—leaving Ellen with resentful relatives, feeling alone and scared for her future.

But then her kind Aunt Rose invites Ellen to stay with her large family, in their rambling house on beautiful Amherst Island, which nestles like a jewel in the blue waters of Lake Ontario.

There Ellen finally begins to find the love and acceptance she has long been craving – both from Aunt Rose’s boisterous family, and from the boys next door, Jed and Lucas Lyman. It’s Jed she’s drawn to… the one with the twinkling eyes, who teases her, and laughs with her, and soon steals her heart…

But does Jed love her back? Because—even though Amherst Island feels like home—Ellen knows she can’t stay there with a broken heart…

“This is the first book in the unmissable Amherst Island Trilogy that follows the life and love of Ellen Copley from the magic of Lake Ontario to the bloody battlefields of the First World War and beyond. Perfect for fans of The Oceans Between UsThe Orphan Sisters, and My Name is Eva.”

Previously published as Down Jasper Lane.

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

All the Devils Are HereNot only is this a great cover, the series is fantastic! One of my favorites around. This particular format I’m spotlighting today is on audio and available for request for NetGalley Members. -Stephanie Hopkins

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

Narrated by Robert Bathurst

Macmillan Audio

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 01 Sep 2020

Description

In All the Devils Are Here, the 16th novel by #1 bestselling author Louise Penny finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec investigating a sinister plot in the City of Light.

On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.

It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.

A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.

Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.

For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.

A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books

The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier

Shamefully I’ve always assumed that Daphne du Maurier was wildly known for her works, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and Jamaica Inn without really looking into her other stories. Yesterday, I saw someone mention her book, “The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier.” I quickly jumped on Amazon and goodreads to check it out and have added it to my 2020 to-read list. Most likely I will be listening to the audiobook since I have two credits available and I’m saving my pennies for research books. Anyhow, I can’t wait to get started on this novel! If you read the story, please let me know what you thought. -Stephanie Hopkins

The King's GeneralAbout the Book:

Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless – and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As the English Civil war is waged across the country, Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, and Honor remains true to him.

Decades later, an undaunted Sir Richard, now a general serving King Charles I, finds her. Finally they can share their passion in the ruins of her family’s great estate on the storm-tossed Cornish coast-one last time before being torn apart, never to embrace again.

Layered Pages Book Recommendations

Normally I post a cover crush on Fridays, but today I’m doing something different. There is so much information out there and the main-stream media has taken front and center in the world’s education. I want to recommend that people take a step back, start questioning what is being fed to them by this entity. Do you feel out of touch? Are you feeling ill at ease? Are you feeling controlled or that you’re not getting enough information and facts? There is a reason for that. Without going into a long discussion about this, I would like to recommend a few books you can start reading that would help. I might be posting a part II of this recommendation. There are so many extraordinary books out there that so many people are not aware of. -Stephanie Hopkins

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A must read: The Holy Bible: New American Standard Version, NASB!!

Notes from UndergroundNotes from the Underground

Dostoevsky’s most revolutionary novel, Notes from Underground marks the dividing line between nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, and between the visions of self each century embodied. One of the most remarkable characters in literature, the unnamed narrator is a former official who has defiantly withdrawn into an underground existence. In complete retreat from society, he scrawls a passionate, obsessive, self-contradictory narrative that serves as a devastating attack on social utopianism and an assertion of man’s essentially irrational nature.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, whose Dostoevsky translations have become the standard, give us a brilliantly faithful edition of this classic novel, conveying all the tragedy and tormented comedy of the original.

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.

 

A Farewell to ArmsA Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield – the weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion—this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep. Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote his ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right.

19841984 by George Orwell

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia”—a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

 

The Life and Times of Jesus the MessiahThe Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim

One of the best known and most important references on the life of Christ ever written, Alfred Edersheim’s “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” is a storehouse of information on the background of the New Testament. This classic work successfully portrays the streets, the marketplaces, the religious conflicts, the people, and the places of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Edersheim divides his work into five sections, or books:
Book 1 “The Preparation for the Gospel”
Introductory historical, religious, political, and cultural material based on the author’s extensive knowledge of Jewish lore and customs.
Book 2 “From Bethlehem to Jordan”
The background of Herod and his reign, St. John the Baptist and his message, and the birth and baptism of Jesus.
Book 3 “From Jordan to the Mount of Transfiguration”
Thirty-seven chapters explore the miracles and teachings of Jesus’ early ministry.
Book 4 “The Descent into the Valley of Humiliation”
A history of the latter part of Jesus’ ministry from the Transfiguration to the journey to Jerusalem.
Book 5 “The Cross and the Crown”
A chronicle of each day of Passion Week, from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection.
Appendices
Valuable background material on Jewish history, tradition, and law”

Growing Up with Timeless Classics

Saturday Sunday:

There are many books that make an impact on your life and your reading experience. There are endless classic titles to discover and one never grows too old to read them. There are classics that are girl’s favorites, young and old. I grew up reading hundreds of them into my adulthood and still do. There are the ones that you will always remanence by holding the book in your hands and scheming through the pages. To not to over-whelm you, I’ve listed just a few of the many I’ve read. I can’t remember if I have ever posted something like this before but it is always good to have a refresher. This might turn into a series as I remember the classics I’ve read over time. Enjoy!

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara

A Wrinkle IN Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Charlotte’s Web by E. B White (Re-read MANY times) Charlotte's Web

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

The Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Women by Louisa May Scott

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls

Matilda by Julie Andrews

Pippi LongstockingPippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Great Expectations by Charles DickensGreat Expectations By Charles Dickens

All books by Charlotte Bronte

All books by Jane Austen

Marry Poppins by P.L. Travers

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brian

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton JusterThe Phantom Tollbooth

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

Nancy Drew books

Trixie Belden books-which I’m torn if I like this series better than the Nancy Drew series. The Author started the series in 1948 and published six books total in the series. After that several other writers continued the series under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny I believe.

Then there is a non-fiction list! That is for another blog post my thinks. -Stephanie

Layered Pages Top Reads: 2016

I was a bit conflicted how I was going to compile this list. Should I just post about five star ratings or post about my top books for three to five star ratings? I read a little over ninety books in 2016. Today I thought I would share my top five star ratings and four star ratings. This does not include the non-fictions books I’ve read. That is for another post. This list is in no particular order except for Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris. Best book I read for 2016. If you would like to know my thoughts on each book, please click on the title and it will take you to my review. Last year was another great year of wonderful reads and I am looking forward to what is to come for 2017! Enjoy!

Five Star Rating:

good-time-coming-iiGood Time Coming by C.S. Harris

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins

SAWBONES by Melissa Lenhardt

The Secret Life of Winnie Cox: Slavery, Forbidden Love and Tragedy by Sharon Maas

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard -Review still to come

Four Star Rating:

in-the-shadowsIn the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer Ellis

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins-Review still to come

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

time-of-fog-and-fire-cook-coverTime of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

Hold My Heart by Esther M. Soto

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today and please be sure to come back tomorrow!

Stephanie M. Hopkins