The Emperor's Body

The Emperor's Body

by Peter Brooks


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393079586
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/07/2011
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Peter Brooks has written extensively about the nineteenth-century novel, French and English. His books include The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess; Reading for the Plot, Body Work, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling and The Emperor's Body: A Novel. After many years on the faculty at Yale University, he currently teaches at Princeton University.

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The Emperor's Body 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
jmaloney17 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I have started this book several times and just can not get interested in it. It seems as if the writer was trying too hard to make it sound like a historical fiction book.
Cariola on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I tried, but I just couldn't finish this book. It starts with a great premise, the exhumation of Napoleon's body. Unfortunately, it meanders into romance territory and gets stuck there--and the romance is poorly conceived and written.
Travis1259 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
A French historical novel involving political intrigue, the moving of Napoleon's body from St Helena's to Paris, and a central figure of Stendhal! When I received this Early Reviewer's Book I was thrilled. Not for long! Although Brooks is a good enough writer, this novel can't make its mind what its all about. Its a little bit historical, too much ridiculous love story, and its central characters are just not developed fully. The result is a mish mash about people we just don't care about. While there is good suspense upon opening Napoleon's grave and the riotous welcome in Paris, this is just not enough. My guess? The author should keep to non-fiction.Seldom have I ever been so disappointed in a novel. Still, I have to admit I am almost tempted to read Brook's award winning nonfiction book, Henry James Goes to Paris.
Unreachableshelf on LibraryThing 22 days ago
This review is based on an uncorrected proof received through the LibraryThing ER program.If you are looking for a book full of politics and intruige surrounding the return of Napoleon's body to France, this is not it. There are passing references to plots going on somewhere and a small riot, but it ocurred to me that most of the book could have been set anywhere at any time that had similar expectations for female propriety, provided that another reason was substituted for Chabot to be gone for an extended time. Beyle (Stendhal) is also contemplating writing a book about Chabot, and Amelia goes on to become a writer, with the result that the reader cannot be sure if they are meant to be reading Chabot's or Beyle's actual actions, or merely the fictional versions as told by Stenhal or Amelia, which distances the reader from the character and makes it difficult to feel for anybody but Amelia, the only one we can trust is speaking for herself. The frequent statemetns that somebody felt like a character in a novel, or like they had only just escaped from a novel, grow tiresome, especially re: Chabot, of whom this observation is made at least four times. More of a literary excerise than the tale of intruige that it looks like.
mariacfox on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Like many other reviewers have stated, this is not the cream of the Early Reviewers crop. I found this book very tedious, the plot winding and uninteresting, and generally a boring read. I had a lot of trouble getting through the end; I just wanted it to be over! I always give books a fair chance, but this one really disappointed me. The title is called "The Emperor's Body," but the actual act of uncovering the body takes up about two pages of the book, the rest filled with lovers' babble and misgivings, which usually I enjoy, but here seems forced and unpassionate. The book really leaves me wanting more of the adventure and mystery surrounding Napoleon's body, not the day-to-day activities of those loosely associated with it. Overall, a very disappointing novel.
CharlieCascino on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I was so excited to read this book, and so happy to receive an "Early Reviewers" copy. The whole idea of the expedition to retrieve Napoleon's body from St. Helena has always fascinated me. However, this book isn't really about the expedition. For some reason, instead of focusing on the wonderful story of the history and politics of the time, the author centers most of the book around events happening thousands of miles away in Paris and Italy. I have no idea what the thoroughly unexciting love life of an insipid - and selfish - girl has to do with the journey and retrieval of the former emperor's body. I was tempted to skip over all of the chapters concerning this Amelia, but then I would have skipped two thirds of the book. The expedition is just used as a side-story to break up the monotony of this really annoying, indecisive girl who, hypocritically, craves action from the men in her life, yet never shows any hint of action herself. That aside, the parts of the book describing the voyage, exhumation, and transport of Napoleon was really very well-written and informative. I enjoyed that bit of the book very much. The author's descriptions of the relationships of the men on the journey, and of the island itself were lovely. I only wish there were more of them. If the author had devoted his story to them, this book would have been wonderful. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait for someone else to write it.
ShanLizLuv on LibraryThing 22 days ago
The last few ARCs of gotten for review have gotten my hopes up, then dashed the on the jagged rocks below. The Emperor's Body fits right in. The synopsis indicated a novelist's account of the expedition to St. Helen's to exhume Napoleon's body and bring it to Paris. Fascinating, right? I suppose, if someone writes that book, it will be--but Peter Brooks isn't that someone. He gives us a few pages (10-15 tops) about the expedition. The rest of the book is a rather dull love triangle about characters you either care nothing about or find so annoying you have to force yourself not to skip pages. Arg.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Let me lead off with the good things about this book. The titular scenes of the relocation of Napoleon's body are really interesting, and the writing is technically good. Therefore, I really wish that I had gotten to read the book that I thought I had been promised, with such a good premise. Unfortunately, the scenes with Napoleon take maybe 10 pages of the novel. The rest of the book is all about this uninteresting love triangle in Paris, among an upper class young woman, a military officer, and an author. I think that it all may have been a metaphor for the turning point in France's politics: dividing up loyalties between France's past military glory or uncertain but thrilling modernity and progress. Whatever, maybe; it wasn't skillfully handled, in any case. Amelia is an embodiment of the historical fiction cardinal sin of twenty-first century feminism placed in eighteenth century France, and it was all so...blah. Even more disappointing, because the author's writing does show talent, but the plot was inane.
joririchardson on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I had high hopes for this book, but it failed to live up to even the most modest of my expectations. In 1840, it was arranged that an expedition be taken up to exhume Napoleon Bonaparte's body from his exiled home of St. Helena's Island, and bury him in Paris, twenty years after his death. This is the story that the book bases itself on, though loosely."The Emperor's Body" would have been more aptly titled something like "Idiots in Love," or "Pointless Romance." This is really all that I got out of it.Henry Beyle, better known as the famous French author Stendhal, takes up most of the book. He is involved with the mission to fetch Napoleon's body, so you would think that this is what we see him doing for most of the story, right? Wrong. He spends the first third of the book reminiscing about his experiences with a lover he has in Sicily, the other third longing for a new girl named Amelia, and the other third playing the "She loves me, she loves me not" game. Though the author constantly reminded us of Beyle's age (around forty, as I remember), he acts like a silly teenage boy in love for the first time.His lover, to use the word flatteringly, is the young, beautiful Amelia Curial. She is being pressured to marry by some, and urged to take a lover by others. Confused and inexperienced, she tells Beyle she wants to be with him, but does not exactly say whether she means as a husband or as a lover. We never really find out.Amelia was sickening, and I disliked her strongly. She toys with the affections of two men at once, all the while utterly undecided about what to do, and leads both to believe that they hold some claim over her. Though it sounds malicious, she really is just a senseless girl. At the end, after everything is decided, she says to herself that now she "knows enough about love." So she considers herself experienced now? In trickery and stupidity, perhaps.I know that this is sounding pretty harsh, but I literally could not have endured another ten pages of these awful characters.The real piece of the story that fascinated me when I read the description was the idea of Napoleon impacting people's lives so strongly, even from the grave. I have been stumbling across quite a lot of books about the Bonapartes and the Napoleonic Wars lately (just by chance), so I thought that this one would be a perfect book to end the sequence.While I was forced to listen to Beyle moaning about Amelia, saying he wants her but can't take her because of what a good man he is, and Amelia saying one day she loves Beyle more than anything and the next day unsure if she has feelings for him at all (ugh!), I looked in vain for Napoleon.He was not the focus of the story at all, but rather an interesting back story that should have been made more prominent. The only part of this book that I actually enjoyed (for a few pages, that is) is when they opened the coffin and looked at the dead emperor. These were the sort of scenes and details I was hoping for in this book!This was a very large disappointment, and the worst Early Reviewer's book I have received to date. Please don't bother with it.
susanbooks on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I admire Peter Brooks' literary criticism. This is my first encounter with him as a novelist and it hasn't been a positive one. This book is so boring, so very, very boring. It's full of awkward exposition, one-dimensional characters, ponderous conversations in which nothing of any interest is said. All this despite a topic full of possibilities: the retrieval of Napoleon's body from St Helena. I can't even summon enough enthusiasm to write anything but a boring review. A real disappointment.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Summary: In 1840, an expedition was launched to reclaim the body of Napoleon from his island prison of St. Helena and return it to France. This expedition was headed up by the young aristocrat Philippe de Rohan-Chabot. Philippe leaves behind in Paris his love Amelia Curial, a mercurial young woman who scorns marriage and only wants adventure... adventure that she thinks she may have found in the middle-aged author Henry Beyle, better known to his readers as Stendhal.Review: It took me four nights of reading to get to page 118 of 268 (glacially slow for me) before I decided to give this book up. At almost the halfway point of a book, I feel like I should be interested in the characters, or the story, or something, but in the case of The Emperor's Body, I just couldn't find anything that made me want to pick it up again after I'd set it down. The characters were dull and none of them were particularly likeable, which made caring about their "love" "triangle" difficult, and while the expedition had the potential to be interesting, it was just getting started by the time I quit. There was also some stuff with a Stendhal being trailed by spies - I think? - but it wasn't explained very clearly and only barely affected the action of the story.Wanting to be sure I wasn't missing anything brilliant, I skipped ahead and skimmed the last 35 pages or so. And it turns out: I wasn't. The characters and their relationships were just as dull, and had barely progressed in their relationships since the beginning of the story. Maybe I missed the best 100 pages of the book in the middle, there, but somehow I doubt it. The writing's not awful or anything; in fact there were some nicely phrased musings amidst the philosophical bits of the first half of the novel. It's just that I didn't care to wade through any more of a book I wasn't interested in to find them. 1.5 out of 5 stars.
philae_02 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I received this book through the Early Reviewers program, to which I am rating this book a 3 out of 5 stars. ¿The Emperor¿s Body¿ consists of two stories: first, it¿s about a young man, Philippe Chabot, going on an expedition to return the mortal remains of Napoleon back to France. And second, it¿s about Chabot¿s courting of a young woman named Amelia Curial. The first story is basically straight forward, but unfortunately gets a bit stagnant at times; but the second involving Amelia is more complicated, especially since she has a fear of marriage and what it would do to her freedom. It was the second story involving Amelia and her complications that I valued more throughout the book, since it gave some movement to the novel.
JaneSteen on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Where I got the book: another LibraryThing Early Reviewer win.The Emperor's Body is a début novel by a professor who has published several works of non-fiction. So I'm going to assume that the historical detail in the book is reasonably accurate.* It is set around true events of 1840, and makes use of many of the personages involved in those events.What happened in France in 1840 was that King Louis Philippe I, France's last king, took the slightly dodgy decision to have the body of Napoleon Bonaparte brought back from the island of Saint Helena where he had died in exile. It was a political maneuver at best, and at worst could be seen as a cheap publicity stunt (depending on where you stood at the time as to whether France should be ruled by a king, an emperor, or the people).Into these events Brooks weaves a love triangle involving the real Philippe de Rohan-Chabot, the young diplomat placed in effective charge of the mission, the real writer Henri Beyle (better known as Stendhal) and a fictional young woman called Amelia or Amélie.And this is the point at which I ask, why?As far as I'm concerned, the return of Napoleon's remains is a pretty interesting story to begin with. Brooks is a good writer and dramatizes the political intrigues well. There's a nice gloomy atmosphere of wet weather and big useless marble buildings, exactly like visiting certain parts of Paris on a cold day, and I could hear the ringing of spurs and the grinding noise of carriages on cobblestones. I would have thought that all this could have provided enough material for a pretty good political novel.And yet somehow we have this story about this girl who doesn't really want to marry Philippe, quite fancies Beyle but isn't sure whether she should sleep with him, and would kinda rather write books anyway. Jane Eyre meets Days of Our Lives. And the POV jumps around between all the characters PLUS Older Amelia who is looking back on the whole episode. It just doesn't work for me. And there's something about paunchy, balding Beyle being a chick magnet that has me murmuring "wish fulfillment." Which is a pity, because as books go it's very well written and intelligent.I'm going to check out Brooks' non-fiction work, though. He seems to have an engaging knack for telling a real story.*No writer ever admits that another writer could possibly be extremely accurate. It's just not done.
pbadeer on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I did not find this an enjoyable book. I was exceptionally intrigued by the premise of the return of Napoleon's body from exile to France, but I had not planned on the (entirely unnecessary) introduction of a love story. In the end, the book spent little time on the return of the body, even less on the politicial implications the decision held and far too much on the relationship which became a love triangle which I understood even less. As the author tried to flesh out areas of the book, the details became almost distasteful, the characters held no sympathy (from me), and eventually they held no interest. Had I not received this as an Advance Reader's copy and promised to do a review, I would never have completed it.
TheCriticalTimes on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Literary writing is an art, not a science, something that can be clearly gleaned from this novel, which reads like an exercise in the scientific approach to fiction writing. Even though the title of this book is The Emperor's Body by Peter Brooks, there is no reason why the retrieval of Napoleon's remains from the island of St. Helena is in any way important to the rest of the story, which is about a murky love triangle. It is not even explained with enough reasoning why the return of Napoleon's body to France is such a grand event. The author appears to make the classic mistake that unless you show a direct link between an event and a person, the reader isn't going to care about the wider implications of that event. For example the events in Russia during the time of War and Piece are directly and clearly linked to the main characters because it starts with those real people and it is about them, not the bigger historical impact, unlike The Emperor's Body where everyone and everything seems to be incidental to everything else. Likewise, it is very mysterious why one of the characters, the author Stendhal, was chosen to feature in this work. There are some historical links that might better explain the relationship between the old womanizing author of The Charterhouse of Parma a British government official on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic and a European socialite who can't make up her mind who she wants to marry. At is stands the book reads like a history textbook with many facts left out. For example if you did not know who the author Stendhal was you will miss a lot of the more subtle character developments. Similarly the story itself leaves out many explanations as to why these particular characters are or were so interesting and why their lives touch ours?So what's happening? It appears that in our current cultural age we put a tremendous amount of value on scientific acumen. The more you know the more you can (fill in any kind of skill for 'can'). Many historical novels are now written by academics, which gives us a sense that the facts are reliable and well researched. Another good example is Roma by Steven Saylor. Although rich in historical detail with plenty of interesting events even, they do not however feel reliable in the way humans are presented.Most writers with an academic or formal background tend to focus on plot and structure. Peter Brooks is no exception and this book, The Emperor's Body is a prime example of narrative structure gone out of control. We are immediately introduced to what appear to be multiple narrators, neither of which apparently know what they are doing and tell us as much. After these confusing first chapters the book continually switches perspective without many clues as to who we're now following and sometimes this switch in perspective occurs right in the middle of a chapter! Most of the time reading this book I spent trying to figure out who was doing what, why and when, quite remarkable for a novel with such a small amount of characters.What probably bothers me most about this particular author is that with such a bad first literary attempt Peter Brooks appears to have already produced a book on writing called: Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative. Ironically the author fails miserably in creating an understandable plot, or any kind of guiding structure, with The Emperor's Body, a book that has so many imperceptible little twists and such grossly misused structure that one wishes he had read his own book on plot first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago