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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: Princess of Nowhere by Prince Lorenzo Borghese


Princess of Nowhere by Prince Lorenzo Borghese
ARC, Paperback, 384 pages
Avon A
December 7, 2010
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Harper Collins for Review

“As the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, Pauline knows that her sole purpose has always been to make an advantageous marriage to further her ambitious brother’s goals. But her joie de vivre cannot be contained—much to the dismay of her new husband, Prince Camillo Borghese. Pauline’s and Camillo’s relationship is tempestuous at best, with Pauline constantly seeking the attention of other men—especially after a heartbreaking loss which leaves her devastated, desperate for attention, and searching for answers. Yet, despite everything, the love that brought Pauline and Camillo together, as imperfect as it might be, can never be truly stifled.

As seen through the eyes of the young woman who served as Pauline’s lady-in-waiting and surrogate daughter, The Princess of Nowhere is an unforgettable tale of a remarkable life that is a study in the excesses of the time as well as an intimate view of a woman strong enough to defy expectations.”

I should start off by telling you that I had my doubts about this book from the time I accepted it for review. I am always skeptical about books that are written by someone who has spent time as a celebrity – especially a reality television personality. The author of this book was The Bachelor on The Bachelor: Rome and he is writing about his own family. So I really went into reading this with some skepticism as to how I would like it. And I am pleased to tell you that my skepticism was unwarranted. The story that evolved was very entertaining and kept my attention. This wasn’t the most serious historical fiction that you will read, but quite enjoyable none the less.

The story follows the life of Pauline, the sister of Napoleon, and her marriage to Camillo Borghese. In my mind I had always pictured Napoleon as an only child (I guess based on the way his personality was) so it was very interesting to see several members of his family as major characters in this book. Napoleon himself is a periphery character – you hear about him and what he is doing, but you never see him. Pauline is quite the entertaining woman – she is scandalous, can turn on the acting/charm when needed, and the center of attention; a great central character. Her story is told through the eyes of her young cousin – so you see her in a sort of idealized light at first and progressively more and more realistic as the narrator gets older.

The one thing that I had a problem with in this book was also one of the things that I liked about it. There is a large span of time that elapses between some chapters, but that space isn’t unaccounted for. There are usually several letters in this in-between space that are from Pauline to various members of her family that help you to string together what has elapsed. I thought that this was an interesting strategy to use, but sometimes I did still feel that I was missing something. Overall it was used effectively, but there were some hiccups.

This was quite the quick read and was easy to understand and enjoy. It was a nice choice to put in between a couple of more heavy books. I am glad that I gave the book a chance and had the opportunity to read about this woman and the rest of Napoleon’s family.

This is the author’s debut novel.  You can visit the author’s website for a vast amount of further information about the characters of the book, view a timeline, and to learn more about the Borgheses. While you are there, read an excerpt of Princess of Nowhere or check out the author’s blog.
 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 



Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

8 comments:

  1. Hey Heather I too was skeptical before reading this book due to the author being famous and I was also pleasantly surprised there was no bias in the book. Great review!

    Taylor~ http://allthingshistoricalfiction.blogspot.com/

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  2. My knowledge on this subject is sketchy and I would love to read this book. I do hope I find it though!

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  3. I didn't know the author was famous. I will definitely have to check this one out :)

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  4. This book sounds wonderful! I want to read it so bad!!!!

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  5. Surprised to see this getting such good reviews -- like many others I was so skeptical!

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  6. Audra & Taylor - I was super skeptical - but it turned out to be rather enjoyable. I wouldn't say a heavy read, but more of a light and emotional read.

    Holly - I wouldn't call him "famous famous" but reality show famous is still something. It was really the main reason why I got it - to just see how he would do.

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  7. I was surprised when I first heard about this book. Like you, I didn't realize he had a sister. He was such a forceful character, he overshadowed those around him.. Although it is not about him, I would think the book would give a little bit of insight into who he was.

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  8. Librarypat - that's what I thought about him too - you just don't really envision him as having family because he is such a huge personallity.

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