07 April 2014

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien Review!

Publication Date: December 2, 2013
Amika Press
Paperback; 484p
ISBN: 978-1937484163

About the Book

As a clever girl in stodgy, mercantile Baltimore, Betsy Patterson dreams of a marriage that will transport her to cultured Europe. When she falls in love with and marries Jerome Bonaparte, she believes her dream has come true—until Jerome’s older brother Napoleon becomes an implacable enemy.
Based on a true story, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is a historical novel that portrays this woman’s tumultuous life. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, known to history as Betsy Bonaparte, scandalized Washington with her daring French fashions; visited Niagara Falls when it was an unsettled wilderness; survived a shipwreck and run-ins with British and French warships; dined with presidents and danced with dukes; and lived through the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Yet through it all, Betsy never lost sight of her primary goal—to win recognition of her marriage.

About the Author

Ruth Hull Chatlien has been a writer and editor of educational materials for twenty-five years. Her specialty is U.S. and world history. She is the author of Modern American Indian Leaders and has published several short stories and poems in literary magazines. The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is her first published novel.
She lives in northeastern Illinois with her husband, Michael, and a very pampered dog named Smokey. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found gardening, knitting, drawing, painting, or watching football.
Connect with Ruth Hull Chatlien at her website or on Facebook.

Buy the Book

My Thoughts

I had no clue who Betsy Patterson was when I accepted the book for review or really knew anything about Jerome Bonaparte, I just knew of Napoleon from what I learned in school and a few other historical novels I had read that were about the Bonaparte family. Betsy had always thought of herself as a "princess" from an early age and desperately wanted to live in Europe. When she met and fell in love with Jerome Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon, she thought her dreams had come true. They married and wanted to go to France to live but Napoleon would not acknowledge the marriage and forced Jerome to come to France without Betsy. 

What happens from that time on in Betsy's life is fraught with disappointments, the biggest with her father and her husband. The only constant in her life is the love for her son "Bo", who is the legitimate son of Jerome, and she will spent her life doing what it takes for Bo to achieve the rank and title of which he deserves. This goal takes her to Europe, where she wines and dines with royalty, but is still not allowed into France, until the death of Napoleon. She is determined to see that her son has a European education. makes a good marriage and is recognized by the Bonaparte family. 

I really enjoyed this novel that not only covers these historical families but also the details of Napoleon and his wars, the wars fought with Britain and the societies of both Europe and America at a time when America is still a young country. Betsy's life crosses paths with many notable people in Baltimore, New York, London and many other cities across Europe. Betsy of course is a woman of her times in that she is stymied in the course she wants for her and her son's life. She sacrifices a lot for her son and never marries again, and lives exclusively for the goals she has set for her son.
Ruth Hull Chatlien, in my humble opinion, has done an excellent job in telling the story of this strong, remarkable woman, in a time where women had little say in anything except maintaining a household and raising children. Full of historical detail, this is a novel well worth the read. It combines the history of both the United States and Europe in the 1800's that will capture the attention of the history buff. I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 31
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Wednesday, April 2
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Thursday, April 3
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Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
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Friday, April 4
Review at Scandalous Women
Monday, April 7
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Tuesday, April 8
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Wednesday, April 9
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Thursday, April 10
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Friday, April 11
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