The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is the debut novel of Ruth Hull Chatlien and is based on the true story of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte who was known as Betsy Bonaparte. While most of us have heard of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte numerous times Betsy is the much less known American wife of Napoleon’s younger brother Jerome. Weaving fact with fiction Ruth Hull Chatlien brings this woman alive for us in a novel sure to please historical fiction fans.
Betsy Patterson longs for more out of life than she has so far experienced. She doesn’t want to follow the rules set out for women of her time and end up married to some merchant having countless babies. Most of all she does not want to live in Baltimore where she is bored silly with all the tedious things that make up her life. It has always been her dream to marry a man from Europe and live there.
When she meets Jerome Bonaparte she is quite sure her dream has come true especially when he asks for her hand in marriage. However his brother Napoleon is adamantly opposed to the marriage but the couple marries anyhow hoping for approval from Jerome’s mother instead. So begins the tumultuous journey from marriage to bearing a son and the great battle to have that son recognized as a Bonaparte.
This novel is one of those that reminds me of why I enjoy historical fiction. It is very well written and while rich in historical detail, the story behind it is captivating as well. The novel breezed by for me and at almost five hundred pages that alone says a lot. It was very interesting to learn about Betsy and I admired her for her determination to be more than what was expected of women at that time in history. I liked Betsy as a character and could feel her pain at the rejection she felt from her father on a regular basis and then having her heart broken. While she frustrated me at times with her headstrong determination in some cases she was still one of those characters who you find yourself rooting for.
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte captures this time in history perfectly. Well written, exciting, and educational – it doesn’t get any better than that! A must read for historical fiction fans!
I have one copy of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien to share with my readers. The book is available in paperback, mobi, or e-pub – winner’s choice. To enter…
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Draw Date April 26/14
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.