The portrait, from up close, of an unknown Napoleon
“Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, is my grandfather’s grandfather.
In the Emperor’s story, the story of the Republican general, or the Corsican child, the truth about his character interests me just as much as the facts: his lovers, his habits, the dazzle in his life, more than the story of the battles. Immersed from early childhood in a considerable part of History, I wanted to share this unique culture, the spirit of the Bonapartes, and show an image of Napoleon from up close.”
We discover his childhood in Corsica, when young Napoleon used to recite Corneille with his oldest brother, or when he takes medical leave from the army to stay on his beloved island, writes passionate letters to the unfaithful Josephine, or invents a new war, almost doesn’t pull off the military coup of the Dix Huit Brumaire, takes power, reforms France from top to bottom, crowns himself, writes about himself in newspapers, cheats at cards, sings off key, sleeps fully clothed on the battlefield, fights with his brothers and sisters, has lunch with his son on his knees, thinks he belongs in Europe’s reigning family, doesn’t understand what happens during the Moscow fire, refuses to seek refuge in the United States, and while exiled in Rome, orders a jewel for his son, the king of Rome.
The author carries this jewel on his person at all times, just as he has always lived in the Emperor’s shadow. This tale is neither a biography nor an essay, but it is brought to life through a powerful wind that sweeps us along a path in the footsteps of an unknown Napoleon, Emperor and human being, imperfect and tremendous.