The Last Love Author:Thomas B. Costain The story of Napolean and "Betsee" is based on fact but Thomas B. Costain has elected to tell it in the form of a novel. He has made it into a narrative of great tenderness and understanding. — When Napoleon arrived at St. Helena as a prisoner in 1815, it was found that Longwood, the rat-infested farmhouse and stables which were to be c... more »onverted into living quarters for him and his entourage, would not be ready for some time. During the first months he stayed at the pleasant country home of an Englishman named William Balcombe. There were two daughters in the family and the younger one, Betsy, could speak French. She acted, therefore, as interpreter for the exile. She was high-spirited, outspoken, and very pretty, never hesitating to thell him exactly what she thought. They argued and quarrelled and made up, becoming in the process such great friends that he bitterly regretted the necessity of removing finally to Longwood. Despite the sometimes absurd rules and resttrictions of Sir Hudson Lowe, martinet and tyrannical governor of the island, the charming relationship between Napoleon and Betsy continued almost to the final stage of his exile.
"The Last Love" however, is above everything else a study of Napoleon, the man, and not the empirical figure of an unconquerable general. The human sides of him are brought out in the life he lived on the hot and dismal island. To broaden the picture there are a number of cast-backs into his past; to Corsica during his youth; to the time of his courtship of Josephine and their marriage; to the campaign in Egypt when his eye seriously began to rove; to the Hundred Days before Waterloo. From these glimpses a closely focused picture emerges of an extraordinary man and transcendent genius.
There is continuous excitement in the story, created by Napoleon's feud with Governor Lowe and the diplomatic battles which resulted. There is also his unceasing effort to find a means of escape. One plan (which could have succeeded) is told in great and ingenious detail.
Through is all there is Betsy, who developed into an exquisite beauty and became the reigning belle of the island; and who never lost the fascination she felt for this strange and compelling figure.« less