Fictional biography this recaptures an era and vast cast of characters in a closely researched story of one of Europe's most provocative and fascinating figures. To many readers, Eugenie symbolized the Second Empire; she set the styles, the fashions, the mores, she was vaguely mysterious and endlessly fascinating. Married to Louis Napoleon, who became Napoleon III, she exercised tremendous power in politics, acted as regent in his various absences, and, after his capture at Sedan, she fled to England. The story- as told here, opens with the announcement to her of the death of her only son, who had stubbornly insisted on joining the British forces in Africa. And then there is a flashback- and her whole story is toll as though by her duenna, daughter of an English chaplain, Miss Flowers, whose real love was centered on , Engenie's more tractable older sister. These early years provide perhaps the most unusual and delightful segment of the whole, for the young Eugenie was a stormy and unpredictable figure, part Spanish, part Scottish and wholly an individual in her own right. As her career gathers pace, her story falls more into the familiar mode of lively personal history. A fresh portrait which will be read with appreciation, as history and biography thinly veiled as fiction.