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The Passions of Pauline Bonaparte
Pauline Bonaparte at Galleria Borghese, by Dhfeinsmith/Flickr

Pauline Bonaparte at Galleria Borghese, by Dhfeinsmith/Flickr

Pauline Bonaparte, favorite sister of the French emperor, was a terrible role model.

Faithful to her famous brother — but not to her husbands. A legendary beauty who liked bathing in milk — and being carried in a chaise longue. She collected jewels. And fashion. And men.

But La Paolina, as the Italians called her when she married Prince Borghese, was more than a sum of her frivolous parts. Courageous, canny and cunning, she might have had an empire of her own had she been born a century or two later.

This hour, On Point: Pauline Bonaparte, “Venus of Empire.”

You can join the conversation. Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte had a formidable little sister? What are your questions for biographer Flora Fraser about the Bonaparte clan, the Napoleonic wars, and the art of piecing together a life for the page?

You can join the conversation. What’s your story of friendship through the years? Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guest:

Joining us from London is Flora Fraser, author of “Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire.” An acclaimed biographer, she is the author of three other books about scandalous women, including “Beloved Emma: the Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton.” She is also the co-founder of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, named for her grandmother, who wrote about the Duke of Wellington and Queen Victoria.

Read an excerpt from “Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire.”

More links:

Here are reviews by The New York Times (title: “Twisted Sister”) and The Washington Times.

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