About this book
In 1913, legendary tragedienne Sarah Bernhardt travelled to Edmonton, Alberta, to perform the last act of Alexandre Dumas’ The Lady of the Camellias before two packed houses at the Empire Theatre. Inspired by Fallen Empires—John Orrell’s celebrated history of Edmonton’s early theatre scene—At the Zenith of the Empire creates a swirling speculative scenario about the impact of this very special day on the lives of Edmonton’s earliest theatre-goers and theatre practitioners. The Divine Sarah herself narrates this sumptuous romp of reminiscence, as the characters visit such local landmarks as Ada Boulevard, the Groat Ravine, newly annexed Strathcona, and the not-quite-completed High Level Bridge.
"Matters of the heart, of life and love, of human connectedness, are what theatre is about. Here, Lemoine proposes that it’s what theatregoing is about, too. And when the biggest celebrity in the world comes to town, and everybody must go, the swirl of individual motives in the audience is heated, heightened, focused."
"A witty theatrical treat.... Lemoine has presented us with a mystery, a love story, and a valentine to theatre."
"Lemoine shows vulnerability beneath the genuinely funny, heartfelt writing.... Lemoine’s Bernhardt becomes an evocation of the endless possibilities inherent in all societies, not just a turn-of-the-century boom-town."
"The play was a delight to see, and is also a joy to read."