Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia, formerly from The Printed Page, where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday currently is on tour, and this month’s host is 5 Minutes For Books.
Here’s what I added to my shelves:
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, so 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.
Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies. (publisher’s summary)
Born to a Russian family of lower nobility, Xenia, an eccentric dreamer who cares little for social conventions, falls in love with Andrei, a charismatic soldier and singer in the Empress’s Imperial choir. Though husband and wife adore each other, their happiness is overshadowed by the absurd demands of life at the royal court and by Xenia’s growing obsession with having a child–a desperate need that is at last fulfilled with the birth of her daughter. But then a tragic vision comes true, and a shattered Xenia descends into grief, undergoing a profound transformation that alters the course of her life. Turning away from family and friends, she begins giving all her money and possessions to the poor. Then, one day, she mysteriously vanishes.
Years later, dressed in the tatters of her husband’s military uniform and answering only to his name, Xenia is discovered tending the paupers of St. Petersburg’s slums. Revered as a soothsayer and a blessed healer to the downtrodden, she is feared by the royal court and its new Empress, Catherine, who perceives her deeds as a rebuke to their lavish excesses.
In this evocative and elegantly written tale, Dean reimagines the intriguing life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a patron saint of her city and one of Russia’s most mysterious and beloved holy figures. This is an exploration of the blessings of loyal friendship, the limits of reason, and the true costs of loving deeply. (publisher’s summary)
Many young ladies are pleased that the regiment has come to camp in Meryton. Not all share their enthusiasm. Among them, Mr. Carver, who removes his family from Meryton’s savage society. He puts the blame, not on the militia officers, but on the shoulders of the Bennet family. The flirtatious and boisterous ways of the youngest sisters are too much to be borne. Not even Jane’s renowned beauty and charm can make up for them.
Elizabeth denies the allegations at first, but rapidly uncovers the shocking truth: the Carvers are not the only family to cut the Bennets from their acquaintance. Their reputations have been materially damaged and the family borders on social ruin.
The news is too much for Mrs. Bennet who collapses from the shock. So, Elizabeth and her sisters must manage the estate until she recovers, a task for which none of them is prepared. Their duty becomes more challenging when Mr. Bennet is called away on business and allows Lydia to stay with the colonel’s wife, surrounded by officers.
Warned by Mr. Pierce, the local curate, that several of the officers have unsavory designs on the local girls, Elizabeth must find a way to honor her father, rein in her sister and salvage the family’s reputation, all in the most ladylike way possible. (publisher’s summary)
On June 6, 1944, Allied forces embarked on the largest amphibious invasion in history, a day now known as D-Day. Amongst the more than 160,000 soldiers on board over 5,000 armored vessels were surgeons, doctors, and medics who would tend to the wounded, valiantly attempting to bring their soldiers home alive.
Goodman’s latest novel is a gripping, tension-filled look inside the lives of the men and women who gallantly served the Allied forces during the final years of World War II.
From the invasion of Europe on the beaches of Normandy to the concentration camps deep in the heart of Germany, Goodman creates a work of fiction detailing the lives of surgeons and their teams of nurses and medics. He also brings to life the dangers and perils of the battlefield medic whose life expectancy during the D-Day invasion was just 19 minutes. This is their story. (publisher’s summary)
The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin, from the author for review (Amazon)
The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britain’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense.
When news of Wilde’s conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. (publisher’s summary)
By the time she arrives in Macau, China, Grace Miller’s life has begun to unravel. Her marriage to Pete is fraying and after confronting her infertility, her dreams of having a family seem hopeless. With the heralding of a new year she resolves to do something bold; something her impetuous Mama might do. In this humid, vibrant little pocket of China, filled with casinos and yum cha restaurants, Grace opens her own French style café, named Lillian’s, after her mother. This sanctuary of macarons and tea becomes a place where the women of Macau come together, bridging cultural divides, and share in each other’s triumphs and pain. But Grace’s immersion in the café takes its toll on her marriage, and when things start to crumble, her beloved Lillian’s suddenly feels like a burden rather than an escape. The recipe for disaster is complete when Pete does the unthinkable.
Infused with the heady aromas of Macau and peppered with delectable characters, The Color of Tea is a mouth-watering journey of the senses as Grace rediscovers what it is to love, hope, and embrace real happiness. (publisher’s summary)
What books did you add to your shelves recently?
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© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.