The Conversation: The Night Napoleon Changed The World by Jean d’Ormesson with Giveaway

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Today I am reviewing The Conversation, a historical fiction novel about a “conversation” that Napoleon had that not only changed his life, but the history of France. I put conversation in quotes since this conversation never actually happened, but the author included ideas and concepts from historical documents. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway where you can be one of 3 lucky US winners for a hardcover copy of the title. More details below.
New The Conversation


After pulling the French people back from the abyss of chaos and misrule, Napoleon Bonaparte is on the brink of declaring himself emperor. “An empire is a Republic that has been enthroned,” he says. And so history is made.

As Napoleon stands at the precipice of his new empire, Jean d’Ormesson’s novel The Conversation: The Night Napoleon Changed the World captures a fictional conversation in which the thirty-year-old, struggling between revolutionary ideals and his overwhelming thirst for power, declares his secret intention to ascend the throne.
 Second Consul Jean-Jacques Cambacérès, a brilliant law scholar and close ally, bears witness to the birth of this self-created legend: a man who left his mark upon time not through birth, but with ambition, and whose hubris is still invoked as a cautionary tale. Their imagined conversation brilliantly captures the tenuous moment when one man’s dream becomes reality. History, of course, records Napoleon’s dizzying triumphs and subsequent fall.

My Review:

I’m a history nut. Not only did I study history in college, I then went on to get a MA in history. Since leaving school I still read tons of history books, including historical fiction. So when Emma asked if I wanted to read this novel I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Even though European history was my specialty, I have to admit I didn’t know a lot about Napoleon. The concept of this book, a conversation between Napoleon and Second Consul Jean-Jacques Cambacérès intrigued me. I’m not sure I’ve read a book before that was just a conversation.

What impressed me the most about this book is the author’s ability to keep the conversation as a conversation and yet he’s able to drop useful nuggets of information for readers like me who don’t know the full story. I worried that I would be sitting on the outside looking in since I’m not an expert about this time period. That wasn’t the case at all. Jean d’Ormesson slips in information effortlessly and it doesn’t distract from the flow of the dialogue but adds to it. If you weren’t looking for the information, like I was, you may not notice it at all. And he doesn’t go overboard on providing historical details. At times he includes casual conversation that normal people would have. For instance, Napoleon talks about a shawl that Josephine acquired and how it caused a row in his family.

The book is quite short and I read it in one sitting. Of course, this conversation never actually happened, but the ideas included in it are taken from historical record. If you are a history buff, this would be a great addition to your collection. While reading, I felt like I was sitting off to the side, listening to these men discuss the fate of France and I felt honored to be part of it.

About the Author
Jean d'Ormesson
Jean d’Ormesson is the author of more than fifteen books, has a PhD in philosophy, graduated from the École Normale, and is a distinguished member of the Académie Française. He lives in Paris.
About the Translator
Timothy Bent has translated a number of books from French, including Brassaï’s Henry Miller: The Paris Years, Emmanuel Carrère’s I Am Alive and You Are DeadA Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick, and Stéphane Audeguy’s novel,The Theory of Clouds. A former editor at Arcade Publishing, St. Martin’s Press, and Harcourt, he is currently Executive Editor, Trade, at Oxford University Press in New York, where he focuses upon history, biography, and current events.

Release date: November 6, 2013

Page number: 128
Publisher link
ISBN: 978-1-61145-905-0
Also available as Ebook

Purchase Now: Amazon § Barnes&Noble

View at: Goodreads


Monday, December 2
Review + Giveaway at Enchanted By Josephine
Tuesday, December 3
Review + Giveaway at I Am, Indeed
Wednesday, December 4
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at
Musings of a Writer and Unabashed Francophile
Thursday, December 5
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Friday, December 6
Review + Giveaway at Making My Mark
To enter the giveaway, please leave your comment as well as the email address as to where I can contact you. Must be 18 or older to enter with a verifiable US mailing address. Contest will end at midnight on 13 December (EST).  Prize supplied by publisher. The winners will be selected at random.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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27 Responses to The Conversation: The Night Napoleon Changed The World by Jean d’Ormesson with Giveaway

  1. I do wish these giveaways extended outside the USA 😦

    Like you I read history (ancient and medieval history and archaeology) at university, and like you I’m not up on the Napoleonic era. One of my time gaps in European history, otherwise I can go pretty much through from first century BC to mid 19th century. But unlike you, I’m not a fan of historical fiction, I would rather read nice dry dusty text books!

    • TBM says:

      I know what you mean about the giveaways. Usually the ebooks are available worldwide, but not the hardcovers. I can’t even enter this contest, not that I would enter one that I’m running 🙂

      Dry, dusty textbooks. History books aren’t dry and dusty. Now I had a few textbooks back in the day that were, but never my history ones. I won’t say which ones since I’m sure there are some in this world that love the subject that bored me to tears.

      • Well I don’t think they are either, so I suppose I was describing them in other peoples’ eyes. I’ve got a couple on the go perennially, Rousseau’s Social Contract and one about the early Roman Empire. The Roman Emperors were just so exciting. Wars, intrigue, murders, plots, sex, lunacy! and goodness knows what else.

      • TBM says:

        I need to read more about the Roman Empire. I studied the time period in classes but never focused on it on my own. Better start on that! It’s been a long time since I read the Social Contract. Happy reading!

    • I know, I wish too I could extend my giveaway for this one to other countries, but this is a question of distribution rights for the editor. sigh…

      • TBM says:

        I understand. Shipping is expensive, which I learned when I moved to London and now have to ship gifts back home for Christmas.

      • it’s not only a shipping cost issue. it’s some kind of rights with the publisher set for one country.
        just lie the stupid law that does not allow to buy ebooks from another country…

      • TBM says:

        Really. That’s odd, but it does explain it more.

      • It’s not just the idea of a free book – obv I wouldn’t knock that, but it would be nice to able to support the people who take time to host these give aways. I’ve had parcels from the US in the past and your rates are cheaper than ours!

      • TBM says:

        I didn’t know US rates were cheaper. I’ve only shipped from London to home. Interesting. I’m not sure why some publishers restrict the contests since most blogs have an international audience. Hopefully they’ll learn from all the comments.

  2. Beth Ann says:

    I am not a huge history buff but I bet Mr. Diamond would love this book. It does sound fascinating and the way you describe the author’s ability to write it in a conversational way is intriguing. Thanks for another great review!

  3. Pingback: France Book Tours stops for Dec 2-7 | France Book Tours

  4. Pingback: Jean d’Ormesson on Tour: The Conversation | France Book Tours

  5. thanks for your awesome review. Emma [FBT]

  6. Intriguing review.
    Sigh. I live in Canada.

  7. Interesting giveaway. Unfortunately, I’m not from the US.

  8. Great review! It’s not my normal kind of read, but you make it sound so intriguing…

  9. benzeknees says:

    How in the world do you read so many books to review? Wow, you’re reviewing a book a day!

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