As if being a prince, starting his own successful business, participating in the family cosmetics empire, and starring in the television show, The Bachelor, weren’t enough, Prince Lorenzo Borghese can now add “author” to his resume. In his debut novel, The Princess of Nowhere, Borghese brings to life his own ancestors, Princess Pauline Bonaparte Borghese and Prince Camillo Borghese. Pauline, sister to Napoleon Bonaparte, was pressured to marry for political reasons, but found herself torn between falling truly in love with her husband and continuing to lead a self-indulgent life of rebellious pleasure.
I was surprised to find this historic romance by a first-time author to be as riveting and nuanced as it was. I found myself absorbed in the character of Pauline. Sometimes admiring her and sometimes despising her, I couldn’t help but turn the next page to find out where her exploits took her. Though the other characters were mildly interesting, none had quite the charisma or captured the imagination quite like Pauline. Though the story was primarily told from the viewpoint of her surrogate daughter, Sophie, the height of each scene definitely centered around Pauline.
Sophie’s first sight of Pauline Bonaparte Leclerc, therefore, was neatly framed by the doorway. She was sitting at a gate-legged writing table, looking down at a large sheet of drafting paper half-unrolled in front of her. One delicate hand pinned the paper to the table; the other tapped impatiently on the arm of her chair. Her dark hair curled around her face. Her profile was set off by the deep red curtain panels behind her, and her pale skin gleamed above her black dress. Sophie thought Pauline was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen.
Not the traditional love story, this tale was at times tragic and maddening. Even in the end, the lovers found trust and communication an elusive rarity rather than the heart of their marriage. However, it allowed the story to unfold in a way that was anything but predictable or cliché.