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REVIEW: Napoleon; His Wives and Women.

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Written by Christopher Hibbert this book tells of all the women in the life of Napoleon - his mum, his sisters, his lovers and his wives.

From the way this book is written I would assume it would be of more interest to someone that already has a more than basic knowledge of Napoleon and the people that lived with and around him.

I have not got a great knowledge of Napoleon and his life and I found myself wondering (quite often) who people were, where they had come from and what they were doing in the story. I often had to go back on myself to find the answers to my questions.

Hibbert gives the reader an insight into how this man treated the various women in his life, from the love and respect with which he treated his mother to the rudeness with which he treated the ladies of his court.

Napoleon's relationships which intrigued me the most were those with his wives. Napoleon was married twice, first to Josephine and, second to Marie-Louise.

His first wife, Josephine, was madly in love with Napoleon, but I think he treated her quite badly. He apparently told her what to wear, how to act and, on one occasion, when she was upset at his lack of fidelity, he demanded she not be jealous when he chose other women to be his bed partner. Josephine was unable to bear Napoleon a child though, so in the end he divorced her and started his search for a new wife.

Marie-Louise was his second choice. She was 20 years his junior and under no circumstances wanted to marry the man rumoured to be a great ogre. Unfortunately for this girl her father demanded she marry the Emperor of France and live happily ever after. Napoleon and Marie-Louise met for the first time on their wedding day and though both were expecting not to be very impressed with the other they fell deeply in love and eventually Marie-Louise gave Napoleon the son (the King of Rome) he had always dreamt of.

In the back of the book there is a chronology which was very helpful in keeping up with all of the births, deaths, marriages, divorces, affairs, etc. This follows a few pages in which Hibbert lets the reader see what happened to the people involved in Napoleon's life after they knew him. This is a fantastic idea as it's great to see how everybody's lives turned out and not just that of the man himself.

Hibbert gives the reader a fantastic insight into a rarely portrayed side of Napoleon's personality. It is interesting to read what some women put up with just for the love of one man who was, more often than not, not even worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this work, though I would not have wanted to be any of the women in Napoleon's life other than his mother, whom he always treated with the utmost respect.

CONCLUSION: A very interesting read, especially if you're like me and enjoy a more intimate look into an individual's personality.

Title: Napoleon; His Wives and WomenAuthor: Christopher HibbertPublished by: Harper CollinsISBN: 0-00-257092-0Price: GBP25.00Reviewer: Joanne Tillman
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Publication:M2 Best Books
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Date:Jan 31, 2003
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