by Ruth Scurr
A Life in Gardens and Shadows
‘Glorious… Scurr is one of the most gifted non-fiction writers alive’ Simon Schama, Financial Times
A revelatory portrait of Napoleon written for our own time, exploring his love of nature and the gardens that gave his revolutionary life its light and shade.
Napoleon’s gardens range from his childhood olive groves in Corsica, to Josephine’s menageries in Paris, to the walled garden of Hougoumont at the battle of Waterloo, and ultimately to St Helena, where he could sit and scan the sea in his final months.
In this innovative biography, Ruth Scurr follows the dramatic trajectory of Napoleon’s life through the land he cultivated and that offered him retreat from the manifold frustrations of war and politics. Seen through the eyes of those who knew him in the shade of his gardens, Napoleon emerges a giant figure made human – both as the Emperor hunting for glory and the man in an old straw hat, leaning on his spade.
‘Immensely satisfying and captivating… Charming and intelligent’ Andrew Roberts, TLS
‘Grippingly original’ The Times
‘A delight to read’ Daily Telegraph
* A Book of the Year in The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Sunday Telegraph and History Today *
Winner of a Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award 2022