About the Books
This first book "Imperial Wedding of Old Paris" is the Cinderella story about how an obscure Spanish girl became the Empress of France.
"Imperial Wedding of Old Paris: Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie and her Secret Duke of Sesto" was published February, 2011 and is on amazon.com, abebooks, empresseugenie.com, barnesandnoble.com and other book web sites. It is selling mostly in England where Eugenie lived the last 50 years of her life and was an insider to Queen Victoria and the British Royal Family.
The second book, "Imperial Triangle of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie and the Intriguing Duke of Sesto: Love, Power and Revenge in Old Paris and Madrid," was published in August, 2011, and is also on amazon.com, abebooks, empresseugenie.com, barnesandnoble.com and other book web sites.
This second book in my series about France's Second Empire and beyond explains how Empress Eugenie became the most powerful woman in the world during the era of America's Civil War. It is a personal and political history of the ruling families of France, Mexico, Great Britain and Spain.
My third book, "Moments of Extraordinary Violence and Intensity," is being laid out by the publisher and should be published in early spring, 2012.
It is the history of how the Duke of Sesto and Eugenie instigated the Franco-Prussian War, how Eugenie fled from Paris and exiled to England, the siege and starvation of Paris, the Paris Commune and the burning of the Tuileries and Saint-Cloud palaces and most monumental buildings of Paris, and the tragic deaths of the Prince Imperial at age 23 in South Africa and King Alfonso XII of tuberculosis at age 28. They were each the hope of Eugenie and the Duke of Sesto. He spent almost all of his assets to make Alfonso the King of Spain and was virtually a broken man after Alfonso died, after which he finally took comfort with Eugenie who had loved him since they were teenagers. This is a tragic epic saga, never written before in English.
What makes these books different from others about Great Britain, France, Spain and Mexico is that they include the Duke of Sesto as the chief motivational figure to Empress Eugénie throughout her years as consort and three Regencies between 1853 and 1870 and afterwards. Most historians assumed that the majority of political decisions were made by her husband Napoleon III; but after 1859, she was heavily involved in foreign policy involving both France and Spain. Eugénie later said that the war in Mexico was “my war” and explained her role in sending Maximilian to be Emperor of Mexico. She also claimed responsibility for making a French colony of Cochin-China, now known as Vietnam. Furthermore, she tried to halt the unification of Italy because the Duke of Sesto had numerous properties throughout the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. (His ancestor, the first Duke of Sesto, was depicted by Velázquez in the painting “Surrender of Breda,” also known as “Las Lanzas” at the Museo del Prado.)
The 8th Duke of Sesto, whom Eugénie originally wanted to marry, became the top adviser to Queen Isabel II of Spain. During his seven-year term as Alcalde and Civil Governor of Madrid, he was inspired by Baron Haussmann’s Paris renovations to transform Madrid into a similar city of fountains and wide boulevards. Eugénie dreamed of recolonizing the New World, fashioning herself as the reincarnation of the first Queen Isabella with the Duke of Sesto as her Christopher Columbus. She made an impromptu visit to Scotland in 1860 from which at least one letter exists in which she hinted to the Duke that they should meet in London and she reminded him of her affectionate feelings. Telegraphs have also surfaced revealing her intense messages to him when he was sick from cholera in 1865. The journal of U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Gustave Körner, included descriptions of her behavior during her State Visit to Spain in 1863.
Much of my research has been translating her letters published in French and Spanish, but never in English, by the Duke of Alba in 1935 and 1944, and then associating her reactions with what her contemporaneous biographers reported happened on corresponding dates. Then I factored in the accounts of Spanish historians especially in regard to the Duke of Sesto’s relationship to Queen Isabel II and King Alfonso XII. The Duke of Sesto acted as a father to Prince Alfonso and served as his Chief of Palace when he was King.
What emerged is a new perspective of history. The Duke of Sesto, also known as the Marqués de Alcañices or “Pepe” Alcañices, or José Isidro Osorio y Silva-Bazán, was not mentioned in the Library of Congress database until I published my first book this year.
The third book, “Moments of Extraordinary Violence and Intensity” is in production, currently being laid out with more than one hundred illustrations from my collection of antique books, engravings and pages from journals of 1850-80. I also have an original letter of Eugénie, an original document signed by the Duke of Sesto when he was Mayor, original wedding invitations and dozens of antique stereoviews.
When I started intensively doing research in 2008, there was little on the Internet about the Duke of Sesto, but early this year, the Spanish Wikipedia site suddenly mushroomed from about five paragraphs to a lengthy article with multiple photographs. I knew then I would have to get my work published or someone else would publish a similar book first and it would appear that I was plagiarizing or copying. After all the time I had already invested, I did not want that to happen, so I decided to self-publish. Outskirts Press in Denver, Colorado laid out the first two books by formatting my illustrations and then had them distributed through Ingram, the London Book Fair, and amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. The books have sold mainly through book stores in Britain and following the speeches I have given to various clubs around Dallas.
At SMU, where I was a French major and history minor and went to graduate school in history, it invariably puzzled me why my European courses leapfrogged past the Second Empire. The courses dealt with the Revolution of 1848, mentioned the Revolution of 1870 and the Franco-Prussian War briefly, and then focused on the pre-World War I era and the 1905 labor strikes and first Russian uprising.
While there are hundreds of books about the first French Revolution, Napoleon I and the World War, there are comparatively few books about Napoleon III, the Second Empire and Empress Eugénie, and none that delve deeply into her relationship with the Duke of Sesto. Nancy Barker, professor at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote “Distaff Diplomacy” in 1967 but dismissed the Duke of Sesto, stating that romantics who might think Eugénie continued a close relationship with him after her marriage to Napoleon III would be disappointed to know that she was nonchalant; however, Nancy Barker did not have access to recent books by such Spanish authors as Ana de Sagrera, Ricardo de la Cierva, José del Corral and other Spanish historians who have explored more of the Duke of Sesto’s role. Although these historians studied the Duke of Sesto, they gave the Spanish perspective and little about the Duke’s linkage to France.
My true history became a dramatic epic like “War and Peace.” Eugénie and the Duke of Sesto helped each other promote Prince Alfonso and the Prince Imperial until both young men died at the respective ages of 28 and 23. Afterwards, Eugénie and the Duke continued their platonic affectionate friendship until he died in 1909.
My interest in 19th century France started when I was a girl. For the first eight years of my life, I lived on a farm outside San Antonio and used to admire the French furniture in the St. Anthony Hotel. When I was 14, my mother sent me to Lausanne, Switzerland and Paris to study French and European culture for the entire summer of 1962. Next, in 1967, I went to Mexico City where there were Napoleon III-style furnishings at the Castle of Chapultepec. I was a newspaper columnist for the Dallas Morning News and Dallas Times Herald for about 20 years and interviewed numerous royal personalities such as Henri d’Orléans and the duc et duchesse d’Orléans. I visited Paris a dozen times, including six visits from 1999 to 2004. Since I wanted to become an antiques appraiser, I studied at Christie’s London in 2004 and took tours of France from Biarritz to Compiègne where I saw the villa and palace each primarily dedicated to Eugénie and the Second Empire. Then I studied in Chicago and became an Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers and have been vice-president of the North Texas chapter in 2011.
P.S. I’ve done so much study on the Second Empire that I found more than a dozen mistakes in David McCullough’s current best-seller “The Greater Journey” about Americans in Paris. When he wrote about Napoleon III, he cited a wrong date and mixed up other facts. I wrote to Simon & Schuster with the list of errors and received a response that everybody is human and sometimes mistakes happen and they may correct the next printing!