1779, France. On the island paradise of Martinique, two beautiful, well-bred cousins have reached marriageable age. Sixteen-year-old Rose must sail to France to marry Alexander, the dashing Vicomte de Beauharnais. Golden-haired Aimee will finish her education at a French convent in hopes of making a worthy match.
Once in Paris, Rose’s illusions are shattered by her new husband, who casts her off when his mistress bears him a son. Yet revolution is tearing through the land, changing fortunes—and fates—in an instant, leaving Rose free to reinvent herself. Soon she is pursued by a young general, Napoleon Bonaparte, who prefers to call her by another name: Josephine.
Presumed dead after her ship is attacked by pirates, Aimee survives and is taken to the Sultan of Turkey’s harem. Among hundreds at his beck and call, Aimee’s loveliness and intelligence make her a favorite not only of the Sultan but of his gentle, reserved nephew. Like Josephine, the newly crowned Empress of France, Aimee will ascend to a position of unimagined power. But for both cousins, passion and ambition carry their own burden.
From the war-torn streets of Paris to the bejeweled golden bars of a Turkish palace, Brandy Purdy weaves some of the history’s most compelling figures into a vivid, captivating account of two remarkable women and their extraordinary destinies.
I have read all but one, her first, of Brandy Purdy's books. I am amazed at each one about the depth of the research that she puts into each book. With Two Empresses we learn the little-known story, at least to me, of two women and their remarkable lives.
Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie and Aimée du Buc de Rivéry are cousins and they live on the island of Martinique. The story opens with the girls getting up in the night to go see Euphemia David to have their fortunes told. What they learn is that they each will be a queen someday. Rose is desperate to get off the island and find her 'king'. Her wishes come true and she is sent to Paris to marry Alexandre de Beauharnais. Things don't turn out as she had hoped and after the birth of their two children, they are separated by court order. Her husband is soon imprisoned as is she during the Reign of Terror. She is released from prison after Alexandre is executed and lives the best she can, becoming mistress to various men. She later meets Napolean Bonaparte and the rest is history.
Aimee on the other hand, after Rose left to go to Paris, she was sent to a French convent but her ship was, according to legend, captured by Barbary pirates, sold as a harem concubine, and was the same person as Nakşîdil Sultan, a Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of the Ottoman Empire. She was thrust into a world totally unknown to her and the life in a harem certainly was not what she would have liked. But adapt she did and became a favorite of the Sultan.
Whenever I read a novel by Brandy Purdy, I find myself totally immersed in the story and characters. Vivid descriptions of the era and even descriptions of clothing and decorations are told in such a way that you think that you are right in the story. That is what I love about historical fiction, is that the reader can be transported right into any story that Ms. Purdy tells. A consummate storyteller and attention to detail make reading the stories worthwhile.
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