Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quick Review: The Princess of Nowhere by Lorenzo Borghese

The Princess of Nowhere: A NovelFrom the Back Cover:

Princess Pauline Borghese was one of the most fascinating women of her day. Now her story is unforgettably told by one of her descendants....

The sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, Pauline knows that her sole purpose has always been to make an advantageous marriage to further her ambitious brother's goals. But her joie de vivre cannot be contained—much to the dismay of her new husband, Prince Camillo Borghese. Pauline and Camillo's relationship is tempestuous at best, with Pauline constantly seeking the attention of other men—especially after a heartbreaking loss leaves her devastated, desperate for attention, and searching for answers. Yet despite everything, the love that brought Pauline and Camillo together, as imperfect as it might be, can never truly be stifled.

As seen through the eyes of the young woman who served as Pauline's lady-in-waiting and surrogate daughter, The Princess of Nowhere is an unforgettable tale of a remarkable life that was a study in the excesses of the time and of the power of a woman strong enough to defy expectations.

My Thoughts:

I've seen some mixed reviews on this one, but I ended up really liking it. Pauline is a great character--she's charming, passionate, full of energy and a hunger to live life to the fullest. She's also vain, selfish, promiscuous, and at times utterly infuriating, but she always makes for great reading! Camillo's a big sweet potato, alternately excited and disgusted by Pauline's overt sexuality. But as time goes on, he tires of her infidelity and her trifling ways and devotes his time to his military career, which becomes quite illustrious thanks to Napoleon's faith in his abilities.

They are estranged during the later years of their marriage, but reunite shortly before Pauline dies. We'll never know to what extent they truly loved each other, but Lorenzo Borghese tells a convincing story of two people who were very different, yet loved each other in their own way, and the final scenes between Pauline and Camillo were heartbreaking and beautifully rendered. Pauline really did request to be buried next to her husband, and Camillo's tribute to his wife, the beautiful marble statue he commissioned from Canova, still stands today in the Galleria Borghese.

I had a couple of minor quibbles: I was a little put off with Sophie, who tells most of the story, and her unhealthy obsession with Pauline, and for a little while I thought that was going to end up overtaking the story, but thankfully it didn't. And I like racy reads, but I think some people may be put off by the sex scenes. But overall I thought it was a great story about two people I previously had known nothing about, it offered a fascinating glimpse into Napoleon's family and the aristocracy of Rome, and it really had all of the elements I like in a book. And it made me cry.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

*Please note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. Hey- great review- I love your thoughts on this. I haven't read it yet...and if a novel is too racy, I don't really like that. This one however sounds like it meshes that into the story without it being overwhelming. And let's face it..a novel about Pauline that leaves out her being overtly sexual, would probably not be that realistic. thanks for the review:)

  2. Looks like something I would like..:) Thanks for the review Jenny!

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