Review: The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien

If you have managed to make it through fifth grade world history, you probably have heard the name Bonaparte at least once.

Most of us associate the Bonaparte name with the infamously small emperor with a big name: Napoleon Bonaparte.

But what of Napoleon’s younger brother? Is his a name one you can recall with certainty? Unlikely.

Jerome Bonaparte was supposed to make a diplomatic marriage according to Napoleon.

But when the ambitious Elizabeth “Betsy ” Patterson puts her mind to something, little can dissuade her.

Betsy was a prominent member of Baltimore society with ambitions and designs of her own. She dreamed that she would marry a man who would whisk her away to Europe and low an behold, Jerome Bonaparte is that man!

Though strongly advised against Jerome’s character, Betsy in unwavering in her desire to marry him. Even though many have cautioned her about his infidelities and indiscretions….she marries him anyway.

But when the pearl gates of Europe’s elite and notorious family don’t part for Betsy she becomes obsessed. After having Jerome’s baby, she hopes that Napoleon will finally accept her but to her everlasting disappointment he doesn’t. Instead he denounces their marriage as if it never happened.

As tensions in America mount between the French, English, and the Colonies, Betsy fears for her son’s life. Ultimately she flees to France without her son and that decision will change not only Betsy ‘s life but her son’s life forever.

This novel was much different that I expected. I was expecting something a little more scholarly and academic but this read much easier and lighter but without degrading the actual history of the characters.

Often writing a fictional novel about a real life character can tend to weigh on the scholarly side rather than the entertainment side, but that is not the case in this novel.

There was tons of historic facts mixed into this novel which weren’t just thrown in for substance and background….they were important to the overall story and riveting to say the least.

None of the history or the background info about the very real characters were boring or unnecessary. I devoured the historic facts and reveled in this little known woman in history.

Betsy is a strong heroine if I ever saw one! She had a wonderful knack at understanding situations and seeing their potential. Not to mention she is funny, charming, and out spoken. She is what some would call a rebel in her social circle….a ‘bad girl’ if you will.

She was constantly reminded of her place in society and told when and what to think and how to act. This she clearly found constraining and at the end of the day, she basically did what she wanted. Ambitious is certainly an accurate description of this young woman!

This woman reminded me of a real life Scarlet O’hara, she was strong willed and unrelenting! I adored her. If you love strong strong strong heroines then this is a perfect novel for you!

I thought this novel painted a great picture of what was going on, not just in Betsy’s world, but for women in general at this early stage in American history. Clearly she lived in a male dominated society and the relationship between Betsy and her father illustrates that nicely.

The amount of historic research is incredible. There was a lot of American history as well as European history put in this novel….not an easy task by any stretch of the measure. The author is to be commended for her research, that research made this novel truly wonderful.

The only thing I might say about the novel that I didn’t care for was the cover. I found it entirely uninspiring. It did nothing for me and I don’t think it did justice for the strong heroine this book is about. I guess I would have picked something a little different and striking….something that stood out for the others.

I reviewed this book as part of The Ambitious Madam Bonaparte by  Ruth Hull Chatlien hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Be sure to visit the other blog stops on the tour for interviews and giveaways!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Ambitious Madam Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien

  • Paperback, 484 pages
  • Published December 2nd 2013 by Amika Press (first published December 1st 2013)
  • ISBN 1937484165 (ISBN13: 9781937484163)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher as part of the HFVBT book tour in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5

Genre: Historic fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, March 31
Review at Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, April 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 2
Spotlight at HF Book Muse-News
Interview at Layered Pages

Thursday, April 3
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Friday, April 4
Review at Scandalous Women

Monday, April 7
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, April 8
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, April 10
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, April 11
Review at Let Them Read Books
Review at The True Book Addict

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