The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
A casual reader might assume that a book about “Madame Bonaparte” would be about Josephine Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon I, and Empress of France. In this case they’d be wrong, but still in for an interesting historical personality. The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is actually an American from Baltimore, Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson. Betsy was the daughter of a merchant, but had decided at an early age to live in Europe and marry a European. Luckily enough, she caught the eye of Jerome Bonaparte, youngest brother of Napoleon I and a French Naval officer, while he was visiting Baltimore, and the two wed after a brief courtship. However, after Betsy goes to France, Jerome denies the marriage and leaves her to fend for herself. She also makes an enemy of Napoleon, yet through it all maintains her focus on being part of European society.
The writing of The Ambitious Madame Bonapart is well crafted and the research into the life and times of Betsy Patterson is quite good. Author Ruth Hull Chatlien covers early American history, from Baltimore to Niagara Falls, and the courts of Europe. There is a lot of descriptive historical elements that sometimes slow down the flow of the story, but don’t bog it down in minutia. Between the War of 1812, the Napoleonic Wars and other Waterloo, there is plenty happening around Betsy. She is an engaging character, though flawed in her pursuit of being royalty in more than just name. Overall, the book is an enjoyable look at an active period of American history from a different perspective than one usually finds.
|Buy this Book