The Second Empress by Michelle Moran || Book Review

When I think of a psychotic twisted character, my first thought goes to the thriller genre.

You know, those insane antagonists that leave you lying awake after reading because they are so damn terrifying.

That’s not something I expect from a historical fiction book.

While the characters in this book didn’t leave me pulling my covers up to my neck and listening for any disturbing sounds around me, they left me thinking about how far one’s mind can go before it borders on psychotic.

DISCLAIMER: This review could contain possible spoilers based on my opinions. All opinions and views are my own.

Book review: The Second Empress by Michelle Moran #bookreview #michellemoran #romancebooks #historicalfictionbooks #france #booktwt #bookaddict #booktwitter

Challenge Criteria: Historical Fiction and a book set in France
Originally published: 2012

Pages: 358
Format: Paperback

Plot from GoodReads:

After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise. 

As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life. 


I finished this book within two days because I was so glued to the storyline.

There is constant insanity in this book, and that’s not a word I use lightly to describe anything book or reality related.

Marie-Louise impressed me with her sense of duty and the sacrifice she knew she would have to make to protect herself as well as her family. Her strength and selflessness were remarkable and the way she handled her marriage to Napoleon was outstanding. In her shoes, I wouldn’t have lasted a day.

So many layered characters in the book and the point of views change to show different perspectives around the story and the patterns of thoughts each character experienced. Showing the different mindsets of the characters showed the difference between assessing the realistic situation compared to the disillusioned minds of some.

Napoleon – holy crap, he was written as even more of a mentally unstable man than what we know from history. His sister Pauline – I don’t even have the words to describe her without throwing in some serious derogatory terms. She really made the story more twisted and in the end, you kind of feel sorry for her yet at the same time, you’re kind of happy about the fate she had to face.


This is an engaging novel that kept me glued to discover the next twisted moment from the minds of the deranged.

I was fascinated by its depth and characters, and if this book is anything go to on, I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Michelle Moran’s novels.

My Rating:

The book has a rating of 3.85 on GoodReads. I gave it a 5.

The Second Empress by Michelle Moran #bookreview #michellemoran #romancebooks #historicalfictionbooks #france #booktwt #bookaddict #booktwitter

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