Midlands boss Boullemier explores French ancestry in first novel

A former Midlands newspaper boss and Fleet Street journalist has published his first novel.

Tony Boullemier, former managing director of the Northants Post group, has published Leonie and the Last Napoleon, which he says is a tale of love, war and political intrigue in the empire of Napoleon III.

The inspiration came from his French ancestors. His great grandmother, the Leonie of the title, was born in Paris in 1848 and left a detailed diary of her family's life.

"Their story was electrifying and just had to be told," said Boullemier. "They lived through incredible times and knew amazing people, including Napoleon III and his family.

"Leonie's father successfully treated the Emperor for skin cancer and they experienced all the horrors of the Franco-Prussian War and the Siege of Paris.

"When the Commune took control of Paris after the Empire's collapse, Leonie's brother Georges helped the Empress Eugénie escape from the mob and flee to England.

"Leonie soon followed when her husband discovered he was on the Commune's death list."

Boullemier has borrowed characters from history and his family, but has added many more of his own, plus further adventures for Leonie and Georges.

"The book has something for everyone," he said. "Love and romance for the ladies, lust and warfare for the men. And plenty of political intrigue."

Boulemier was born in Newcastle and trained on news and sport with the Newcastle Journal.

He covered Newcastle United's 1969 Fairs Cup triumph in Budapest and his front page report still hangs prominently in the St James's Park press room.

He then joined the Daily Express in Fleet Street, rising to chief sub before leaving, aged 29, to set up his own newspaper in Northampton.

He and his partners expanded the Northants Post into a chain of 16 papers and magazines circulating nearly 400,000 copies a week throughout the east Midlands, before selling the titles to Thomson Regional Newspapers. The group is now owned by Trinity Mirror.

Since then, Boullemier has freelanced widely as a magazine editor and studied medieval history at Leicester University.

His family are all journalists. Wife Marie, who was also a director at the Post, writes Pandora's Box, a weekly column for the Northampton Chronicle & Echo.

Son Richard is a reporter on the Richmond & Twickenham Times and a freelance radio reporter; and daughter Kerry is a reporter with the Essex Chronicle.

Léonie and the Last Napoleon is published by Trafford, priced £12.95. You can get it direct from the author (postage free) by phoning 01604 842357 or download an order form from www.leonieandthelastnapoleon.com

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