I’ve read The Wide World Dreaming by JoAnne Soper-Cook (Breakwater) twice now and I’m still surprised by how good it is. It’s written by a woman from St. John’s, Newfoundland, and published by a company there that needs to learn more about good layout, but this unassuming book is anything but regional. In The Wide World Dreaming, Napoleon Bonaparte comes to life through a rich, lively and very sexy account of his life from birth in 1796 (yes, he was awake and apparently taking notes) through to his exile to St. Helena in 1815. The story, which is written in the first person, unfolds like a personal journal with large gaps when Napoleon was probably too busy to write. We are spared battle statistics and details of triumphs, and instead we are treated to personal musings much like those we would write in our own journals. Like many other diarists, Napoleon tended to turn to his journal when he was unsure of himself or when things were going badly, which is why this book is such an interesting way to get to know him. Soper-Cook has done an excellent job of bringing to life a man whom I never thought I was interested in.