The Princess of Nowhere
Pauline Bonaparte, younger sister of Napoleon, loses her first husband to yellow fever. She returns to Paris from Saint Dominique, spends lavishly and embarrasses her brother with her affairs. Napoleon secures a second marriage for her to Prince Camillo Borghese, heir of an ancient Italian family. Camillo is reluctant to marry this notorious young woman until he meets her and succumbs to her beauty and charm.
The couple returns to Italy where Pauline is soon bored by her husband’s reserve, especially in the bedroom. She attracts other male attention, flaunting herself at the parties she hosts. Camillo is humiliated. His family already resents the French occupation of Italy, and relations all around are strained. The prince sends Pauline to one of his lesser estates, and they remain estranged for many years. Pauline’s health fails, and she finally realizes what her husband meant to her, but will he discard his mistress and return to her arms?
The story is lively and reads at a quick pace. The sex scenes are erotic. Many of the observations of the couple are seen through the eyes of a fictional character, Sophie. She is Napoleon’s ward, and he sends her to Pauline when still a child to be his sister’s companion, and later a lady-in-waiting. Sophie resents Camillo at first—to the point where she grows annoying. Time is wasted on her subplots. The story would be more compelling if it had concentrated on the central characters and their tumultuous relationship. The author is a descendant of Camillo Borghese.