Collector, adventurer and artist, Vivant Denon was a youthful courtier at Versailles; he lived through the French Revolution, and galloped across Egypt with Bonaparte. A skilled survivor, he knew everyone and found world fame without seeking it, risking his life and happiness in an endless quest, a love affair with art.
Taking a real historical figure, his extraordinary life, his passions, his friendship with Napoleon and the Venetian contessa who was Denon's great love, Lee Langley has created a rich canvas that captures the dying grandeur of Venice, Robespierre's terror, the battle of the Nile and a dazzling liaison dangereuse, alongside a tender love story. With wit and imaginative invention, she brings to life a tumultuous period and a fascinating man.
Living in his shadow is Baptiste, his servant, watching as his master, ever closer to Napoleon, fills the Louvre museum with treasures looted from the enemies of France. Denon's private life is also open to the valet's watchful eye. And he too has hopes. And secrets.
Lee Langley is the author of nine highly praised novels including Changes of Address (shortlisted for the Hawthornden Prize) and Persistent Rumours (winner of a Commonwealth Writers' prize). Her adaptation 'The Tenth Man', based on a Graham Greene story, was made into an award-winning movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Derek Jacobi. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in London.