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Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

"The novel is a brilliant portrait of an age, the bloody epoch in which the Bourbon monarchs of the Kingdom of Naples—aided by the infamous Baron Scarpia of Tosca fame—took violent revenge on the revolutionaries and intellectuals who supported the insurrection of 1799."  —Publishers Weekly

"Sontag's (The Way We Live Now) excursion into the realm of historical/romance novels serves a more rigorous agenda than merely fictionalizing the lives of Sir William Hamilton; his wife, Emma; and her lover, Lord Nelson. The narrative illuminates larger themes: the venality and hypocrisy of many of the pillars of 18th-century society; the perennial status of women as an underclass; the subservience of ethics to political expediency; the greed that often fuels a patron of the arts. These and other issues are examined in cool, ironic prose that does not disguise the author's indignation. Sontag's unconventional look at one of history's most famous amorous triangles offers revisionist portraits of her three protagonists. Hamilton, known as the Cavaliere in his post as British envoy to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, subverts his emotions into an obsessive urge to collect antiquities--until he becomes infatuated with Emma. Nelson is guilty of callously cruel and unprofessional behavior as a result of his infatuation with Lady Hamilton. Only she acquits herself relatively well; though she is vulgar and ostentatious, Emma has humanitarian instincts the others lack." —Publishers Weekly