"Perhaps all romance is like that; not a contract between equal parties but an explosion of dreams and desires that can find no outlet in everyday life. Only a drama will do and while the fireworks last the sky is a different colour." -Jeanette Winterson
Henri, a poor country boy joins the French military to follow his passion: Bonaparte. His tour of duty takes him on Napoleon's marches, and one is treated to an inside of look at being a soldier in Bonaparte's army. Napoleon's passion for fighting has him take his armies into Moscow. Concurrently, a woman gives birth to a child in Venice. The child's father is a Boatman, and those children, according to legend, can walk on water. The child turns out to be a girl, but is nonetheless a Boatman's Daughter. She has a passion for gambling, and meets the love of her life and finds another passion, in the process losing her heart. After her heart has been broken, she marries a cruel, fat Frenchman and exults in his passion for debasing her. Her destiny takes her to Moscow, where she meets Henri. Henri's passion for the Boatman's daughter proves to be no small thing in his own destiny.
Set in magical, eternal cities, encompassing a time which captivates the imagination, and written in beautiful prose, this work is emminently readable, and entirely riveting. There are beautiful heart-stopping phrases worth quoting on every page -- words which, by their beauty, make this spellbinding tale a lyrical journey of discovery. There are many kinds of passions in this piece, and following each to its end, and savoring each as it comes, is a bittersweet and very poignant experience. Do it! Highly Recommended!