[Reading] ➬ The Emperor's Last Island: A Journey to St. Helena ➳ Julia Blackburn – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk


The Emperor's Last Island: A Journey to St. Helena In Napoleon Bonaparte Arrived On St Helenad Surreal Exile That Would Last Until His Death Six Years Later A Resonant Meditation On Exile, Fame, The Stories We Tell About Ourselves And The Bigger Stories We Tell About Our Great Figures Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • Paperback
  • 277 pages
  • The Emperor's Last Island: A Journey to St. Helena
  • Julia Blackburn
  • English
  • 27 November 2018
  • 0679739378

About the Author: Julia Blackburn

Julia Blackburn is the author of several other works of nonfiction, including Charles Waterton and The Emperor s Last Island, and of two novels, The Book of Color and The Leper s Companions, both of which were short listed for the Orange Prize Her most recent book, Old Man Goya, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award Blackburn lives in England and Italy.



10 thoughts on “The Emperor's Last Island: A Journey to St. Helena

  1. says:

    While this book is a history and biography, it can also be read as an interpretive travelogue Most of the book documents Napoleon s final incarceration which informs the visit the author makes at the end It can be read for its history, and in some places, particularly the death and the later exhumation of Napoleon, for the beauty of its prose.An entourage, including a pastry chef, is all dressed up sitting in rat and bug infested dwellings doing virtually nothing Guards stand often at attent While this book is a history and biography, it can also be read as an interpretive travelogue Most of the book documents Napoleon s final incarceration which informs the visit the author makes at the end It can be read for its history, and in some places, particularly the death and the later exhumation of Napoleon, for the beauty of its prose.An entourage, including a pastry chef, is all dressed up sitting in rat and bug infested dwellings doing virtually nothing Guards stand often at attention and cannot sit down but for board games Letters, and the few newspapers allowed, arrive 6 months after they are written In the first year Napoleon works on his memoirs dictating different portions of his life to attendants Like others, these transcribing historians get bored and leave.You follow this existence through time, personnel changes primarily leavings and shortages of this and that Napoleon voraciously reads whatever comes on ships His health deteriorates and he gains weight He builds a garden and tries a fish pond and transplants trees to mixed success.You feel the weight of the life on this lonely outpost

  2. says:

    I first started this book sometime during the beginning of 2008, as an assignment for my grad school writing course Like most books I read during grad school, I did not finish it Now I have.Blackburn has an easy, conversational style of prose that occasionally wanders into lush imagery and musings and I love it I don t know much about Napoleon, but I didn t feel like I had to as the author gently explained everything that was relevant to her narrative.Engrossing and lovely and good for anyon I first started this book sometime during the beginning of 2008, as an assignment for my grad school writing course Like most books I read during grad school, I did not finish it Now I have.Blackburn has an easy, conversational style of prose that occasionally wanders into lush imagery and musings and I love it I don t know much about Napoleon, but I didn t feel like I had to as the author gently explained everything that was relevant to her narrative.Engrossing and lovely and good for anyone interested in Napoleon, history, islands, ecology, or good writing

  3. says:

    Not a book I would have chosen for myself, but luckily it was given to me as an inspired xmas present thank you Aimee Engagingly written, informative and poignant and a joy to read.

  4. says:

    The past leads into the present, and the island of St Helena is a witness to the changes it has seen and is still the same place, even though it has been put to many uses by the succession of people who have made claims to it and have adapted it to suit one purpose and then another If you stare at the strangely naked landscape you can easily see what it must have lost, and you are close to knowing how it once was Napoleon tried to make a garden that would give him some privacy the same place The past leads into the present, and the island of St Helena is a witness to the changes it has seen and is still the same place, even though it has been put to many uses by the succession of people who have made claims to it and have adapted it to suit one purpose and then another If you stare at the strangely naked landscape you can easily see what it must have lost, and you are close to knowing how it once was Napoleon tried to make a garden that would give him some privacy the same place where Fernando L pez hid himself in greenness

  5. says:

    It s always somewhat agreeable when you come across a book that s almost impossible to classify This as a case in point it s history but not quite, a travelogue but not entirely, a personal journal but not really, an imaginative interpretation but with a grounding of fact, a biography but of who, Napoleon or St Helena It s somehow all of these things and none of them I really didn t quite know what to make of it reading it, and having finished it now I still don t I certainly enjoyed it, h It s always somewhat agreeable when you come across a book that s almost impossible to classify This as a case in point it s history but not quite, a travelogue but not entirely, a personal journal but not really, an imaginative interpretation but with a grounding of fact, a biography but of who, Napoleon or St Helena It s somehow all of these things and none of them I really didn t quite know what to make of it reading it, and having finished it now I still don t I certainly enjoyed it, however Napoleon was exiled to St Helena in 1814 and died there six years later It was by far the most eventful occurrence in St Helena s history and has come to define the island ever since In this book Julia Blackburn depicts both Napoleon s experience on the island and the island s experience of him and in many ways the impact of both on the author herself St Helena itself is as much the subject of this book as Napoleon, and perhaps Julia Blackburn too.It s a very poetic read, not your usual dry recital of dates and names and places It s also a very imaginative read and without the usual historical accompaniment of footnotes and references, it s hard to know just how much of this is based on fact and how much on imaginative interpretation I ve certainly rarely read history where the author is so prominent in the narrative It seems to work here There s a sort of dreamy timelessness to this tale, perhaps an attempt to evoke how time must have felt to Napoleon, living out day by dreary day in the most isolated place on earth

  6. says:

    One of the most curious books I have ever read as Ms Blackburn tried to fill hundreds of pages with the final six years of Napoleon s life on the island of St Helena, albeit when so little seemed to have happened that one wonders why a book would be published on the subject at all Many chapters begin with quotes from Lewis Carroll s Through the Looking Glass which should tip the reader off that were about to head into the rabbit hole on this one No illustrations, reproductions, maps, just One of the most curious books I have ever read as Ms Blackburn tried to fill hundreds of pages with the final six years of Napoleon s life on the island of St Helena, albeit when so little seemed to have happened that one wonders why a book would be published on the subject at all Many chapters begin with quotes from Lewis Carroll s Through the Looking Glass which should tip the reader off that were about to head into the rabbit hole on this one No illustrations, reproductions, maps, just text.But readers are treated to such gems as Between October 1820, when Napoleon drank champagne and ate potted meats with the Dovetons on the lawn of their garden overlooking Sandy Bay, and May 1821, when he died in the drawing room at Longwood, nothing much happened And at this point there is still 1 3 of the book to wade through, oh dear or my favorite a few pages later, a one sentence paragraph February 1821, and there is still March, April and the first days of May to go before the end And at this point there was still 1 3 of the book to wade through, minus a few pages Certainly a must read for calendar enthusiasts, but I was grateful that Ms Blackburn spared us the ticking of the clocks And just in case you were curious about Ms Blackburn s quals or writing chops, she is described in About the Author as living in Suffolk, England with her husband and their two children Nothing

  7. says:

    Always an excellent writer, Blackburn tackles Napoleon s exile in St Helena, an odd place that she actually visits to contrast the years of exile to the present Recommended by Nancy Pearl s More Book Lust, this covers his few years of exile as well as the people who contributed to his life there Blackburn sticks to his life on the odd island More background seemed necessary because one wants to knowabout Napoleon s earlier life and how he wound up there because he really did nothing bu Always an excellent writer, Blackburn tackles Napoleon s exile in St Helena, an odd place that she actually visits to contrast the years of exile to the present Recommended by Nancy Pearl s More Book Lust, this covers his few years of exile as well as the people who contributed to his life there Blackburn sticks to his life on the odd island More background seemed necessary because one wants to knowabout Napoleon s earlier life and how he wound up there because he really did nothing but kill time there until he died

  8. says:

    Published in 1991, I found this copy at a free English language book exchange shelf in a tiny ice cream parlor in Arles, France It seemed an appropriate place to read about the Emperor Napoleon Somehow, I had the mistaken idea that he had been exiled to Elba due to the palindrome, Able was I, ere I saw Elba rather than to St Helena, which is 1800 miles from Brazil, 1200 miles from Africa, and 700 miles from its nearest neighbor Julia Blackburn does a magnificent job of telling the histor Published in 1991, I found this copy at a free English language book exchange shelf in a tiny ice cream parlor in Arles, France It seemed an appropriate place to read about the Emperor Napoleon Somehow, I had the mistaken idea that he had been exiled to Elba due to the palindrome, Able was I, ere I saw Elba rather than to St Helena, which is 1800 miles from Brazil, 1200 miles from Africa, and 700 miles from its nearest neighbor Julia Blackburn does a magnificent job of telling the history of the island, how it was discovered time and again, exploited, nearly ruined, barely revived And how it became the prison for the remaining bombastic, regal, and pitiful years of Napoleon s life She writes beautifully, as when she describes her own trip to the Island during a storm You wake up out of a restless dream to a tremendous hubbub of noise and movement and your body is so busy with its own private battle that you can t ask anything of it There is only passivity, the passivity of waiting for something to change, and you lie there throughout a long day, watching the reflection the waves outside throw on the ceiling of the cabin a fleeting patterns of light and thin shadows that rushes with a relentless flickering energy like the shadow of smoke in a wind

  9. says:

    Primarily history, partially a travelogue Blackburn tells the story of Napoleon s time on St Helena exile, death, brial, disinterment, and departure well she manages to keep the reader s interest in a story where nothing of consequence happens.As a traveller she seems to me less competent she spends a month on St Helena after intensively researching Napoleon s time there, but never determines whether any trace of Longwood New House planned as the Emperor s final home though incomplet Primarily history, partially a travelogue Blackburn tells the story of Napoleon s time on St Helena exile, death, brial, disinterment, and departure well she manages to keep the reader s interest in a story where nothing of consequence happens.As a traveller she seems to me less competent she spends a month on St Helena after intensively researching Napoleon s time there, but never determines whether any trace of Longwood New House planned as the Emperor s final home though incomplete at the time of his death still exists and hasn t even the curiosity to visit its site, though it is supposed to be near Longwood Old House the rebuilt building in which Napoleon actually resided which she visitedthan once Her observations of the island s inhabitants seem very superficial certain things she seems to think particular to life in a remote island the sense of lost customs and memories, the abandonment of self reliance for dependance on distant but cheaper sourcing seem common to late 20th century life

  10. says:

    This book could have easily been 100 pages less than it is Blackburn gets wordy and reptitive to the point it feels as if she s simply writing to fill up nearly 300 pages on the most droll topic possible While the historical recounts and her own personal journey on the island made for interesting reading thus 3 stars instead of 2 , I couldn t wait for this book to just end How much can one possibly write on the mundane life of Emporer Bonaparte in exile A bit of editing and incorpartion of i This book could have easily been 100 pages less than it is Blackburn gets wordy and reptitive to the point it feels as if she s simply writing to fill up nearly 300 pages on the most droll topic possible While the historical recounts and her own personal journey on the island made for interesting reading thus 3 stars instead of 2 , I couldn t wait for this book to just end How much can one possibly write on the mundane life of Emporer Bonaparte in exile A bit of editing and incorpartion of images documents would have really made this book shine, imo

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