Today I’m participating in the France Book Tour of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte. For all the tour stops, please visit this page.
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
I love historical fiction novels. The Bonaparte name is well known. However, many of us associate the name with Napoleon. I may have heard of Napoleon’s younger brother in one of my history classes, but the name Jerome Bonaparte had been banished from my memory. Which means I was completely ignorant of Elizabeth Patterson, Jerome’s American wife. How fascinating that there were Bonapartes living in Baltimore.
Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Patterson was an ambitious young woman, as the title of Ruth Hull Chatlien’s novel suggests. The idea that she’d marry a man from Europe settled in her mind at an early age. When she meets Jerome Bonaparte, a Frenchman, it seemed it was only a matter of time until she married him. Unfortunately, Napoleon didn’t approve of the marriage. He wanted his younger brother to marry for diplomatic reasons, not for love.
Betsy wants nothing more than to be a Bonaparte and wants to live in Europe. When she has Jerome’s son, she hopes that Napoleon will finally welcome her. He doesn’t. Betsy’s quest to live in Europe and to be part of the distinguished family is her lifelong goal. No matter how many obstacles she faces, Betsy refuses to give up. On one hand I admired her determination. On the other I wanted to talk sense into her. Her ambition drove those around her mad, including her son.
This novel is an entertaining story about a woman who actually existed. Writing about a historical figure is a challenge since the author is confined by history. The danger is that the novel will be more like a textbook and not a story. The author does a fantastic job of bringing Betsy to life and remaining true to historical events.
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is well written and offers much insight not only into Betsy’s life, but the life of many women during this time period. All of the secondary characters add to rich tapestry of history and is a wonderful addition to the historical fiction genre.