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The Second Empress

1 rating

Summary

National best-selling author Michelle Moran returns to Paris, this time under the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as he casts aside his beautiful wife to marry a Hapsburg princess he hopes will bear him a royal heir.... After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the 18-year-old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war. Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen - a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise. As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history - and change the course of her life. Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.

©2012 Michelle Moran (P)2012 Random House Audio

Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
Available on Audible
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Kafka and the Doll

Summary

Based on a true story about Franz Kafka Inspired by a true story, Kafka and the Doll recounts a remarkable gesture of kindness from one of the world's most bewildering and iconic writers. In the fall of 1923, Franz Kafka encountered a distraught little girl on a walk in the park. She'd lost her doll and was inconsolable. Kafka told her the doll wasn't lost, but instead, traveling the world and having grand adventures! And to reassure her, Kafka began delivering letters from the doll to the girl for weeks.  The legend of Kafka and the doll has captivated imaginations for decades as it reveals the playful and compassionate side of a man known for his dark and brooding tales. Kafka and the Doll is a testament to living life to the fullest and to the life-changing power of storytelling.

©2021 Larissa Theule (P)2021 Listening Library

Length: 17 mins
Available on Audible
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How to Behave in a Crowd

1 rating

Summary

A witty, heartfelt novel that brilliantly evokes the confusions of adolescence and marks the arrival of an extraordinary young talent.  Isidore Mazal is 11 years old, the youngest of six siblings living in a small French town. He doesn't quite fit in. Berenice, Aurore, and Leonard are on track to have doctorates by age 24. Jeremie performs with a symphony, and Simone, older than Isidore by 18 months, expects a great career as a novelist - she's already put Isidore to work on her biography. The only time they leave their rooms is to gather on the old, stained couch and dissect prime-time television dramas in light of Aristotle's Poetics.  Isidore has never skipped a grade or written a dissertation. But he notices things the others don't, and asks questions they fear to ask. So when tragedy strikes the Mazal family, Isidore is the only one to recognize how everyone is struggling with their grief, and perhaps the only one who can help them - if he doesn't run away from home first.  Isidore's unstinting empathy, combined with his simmering anger, makes for a complex character study, in which the elegiac and comedic build toward a heartbreaking conclusion. With How to Behave in a Crowd, Camille Bordas immerses listeners in the interior life of a boy puzzled by adulthood and beginning to realize that the adults around him are just as lost. 

©2017 Camille Bordas (P)2017 Random House Audio

Length: 9 hrs and 5 mins
Available on Audible
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Letters From Skye

3 ratings

Summary

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart. March 1912: 24-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence - sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets - their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive. June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago. Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.

©2013 Jessica Brockmole (P)2013 Random House Audio

Available on Audible
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I Will Never See the World Again

5 ratings

Summary

A resilient Turkish writer's inspiring account of his imprisonment that provides crucial insight into political censorship amidst the global rise of authoritarianism. The destiny I put down in my novel has become mine. I am now under arrest like the hero I created years ago. I await the decision that will determine my future, just as he awaited his. I am unaware of my destiny, which has perhaps already been decided, just as he was unaware of his. I suffer the pathetic torment of profound helplessness, just as he did. Like a cursed oracle, I foresaw my future years ago not knowing that it was my own. Confined in a cell four meters long, imprisoned on absurd, Kafkaesque charges, novelist Ahmet Altan is one of many writers persecuted by Recep Tayyip Erdogan's oppressive regime. In this extraordinary memoir, written from his prison cell, Altan reflects upon his sentence, on a life whittled down to a courtyard covered by bars, and on the hope and solace a writer's mind can provide, even in the darkest places.

©2019 Ahmet Altan (P)2019 Random House Audio

Available on Audible
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The Anatomy Lesson

1 rating

Summary

Commissioned by the Amsterdam Surgeons’ Guild, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp was the first major Rembrandt work to catapult the young painter to international fame. Taking this painting as its inspiration, Nina Siegal’s novel The Anatomy Lesson opens on the morning of the medical dissection and follows several characters as they prepare for the evening’s big event: we meet Aris the Kid, a one-handed coat thief who is awaiting his turn at the gallows; Flora, the woman who is pregnant with his child and who hopes to save him from the executioner; Jan Fetchet, a curio collector who also moonlights as an acquirer of medical cadavers; René Descartes, who will attend the dissection in the course of his quest to understand where the human soul resides; and the twenty-six-year-old Dutch master himself, who feels a shade uneasy about this assignment. And in the twenty-first century, there is Pia, a contemporary art historian who is examining the painting. As the story builds to its dramatic and inevitable conclusion, the events that transpire throughout the day sway Rembrandt to make fundamental changes to his initial composition. Bringing to life the vivid world of Amsterdam in 1632, The Anatomy Lesson offers a rich slice of history and a textured story by a young master.

©2014 Nina Siegal (P)2014 Random House Audio

Available on Audible