The Emperor’s Body

Written by Peter Brooks
Review by John R. Vallely

Even in his lonely tomb in far away St. Helena, Napoleon and the empire he created played a critical role in French political life in 1840. Bringing the emperor home to rest in honor in Les Invalides is the story that Peter Brooks presents. Three characters occupy center stage in a fascinating tale of monarchy, revolution, and personal quests for love and peace of mind. The enigmatic Stendhal (Henri Beyle), the beautiful Amelia Curial, and the impressionable diplomat Philippe de Rohan-Chabot all become caught up in the political and personal machinations involved in returning the fallen emperor to his capital. All three see their lives transformed by their decisions on the voyage from St. Helena. France is also a central character as Peter Brooks clearly demonstrates his awareness of the complicated life of society under Louis-Philippe. It is a pleasure to encounter a novelist that captures so vividly the essence of the time period of which he/she writes.