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The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  662 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Gold Medal Winner, Historical Fiction Personage, 2014 Readers’ Favorite Awards
First Place Winner, Turn of the 19th Century, 2014 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction

Tell the emperor that Madame Bonaparte is ambitious and demands her rights as a member of the imperial family.

As a clever girl in stodgy, mercantile Baltimore, Betsy Patterson dreams of a marriage that will tr
Paperback, 496 pages
Published December 2nd 2013 by Amika Press (first published December 1st 2013)
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The Lit Bitch
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Historical Fiction
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I was fairly optimistic when I first opened Ruth Hull Chatlien's The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte. My friends were recommending it left and right and though I possessed a passing familiarity with the material, I couldn't help wondering over the enthusiasm I was seeing from my peers. Curiosity got the better of me and the rest, as they say, is history.

Like all biographical fiction, the events highlighted in Chatlien's debut we
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
While I'm a fan of Josephine Bonaparte, I actually know very little about the Bonaparte family, so I jumped on the chance to read a novel about her sister-in-law. With the Bonapartes, I anticipated some drama, but I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this fabulous novel.

Baltimore belle Elizabeth 'Betsy' Patterson longs for more than the life as a merchant's wife, and as a child, is told she's destined for royal courts. When Napoleon Bonaparte's dashing younger brother Jerome appe
Michelle Stockard Miller
Historical fiction has done it again! Because of reading this novel, I have once again learned about an enigmatic historical figure. How did I not know of this strong and industrious woman?!

Elizabeth Patterson decided early on, after a strange foretelling by an African slave woman, that she would marry a man from Europe, perhaps even marry into royalty. She did just that. She met and married Jerome Bonaparte. Yes, the brother of the one and only Napoleon. As can be imagined, the marriage did not
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hall Chatlien is a suberbly written very throughly researched, richly detailed psychologically acute historical novel. It is the very much fact based account of a tumultuous passionate relationship of Elizabeth Patterson Bonapatre, born into a large, affluent Baltimore merchcantile family dominated by her father with Jerome Bonaparte, the younger brother of Napolean.

The story line begins shortly after the USA has won its independence from England. The bigg
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. "The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte" is the story of Betsy, a young woman from a well off family who lives just outside of Baltimore (score one for my fellow Marylanders). She meets Jerome, a man who just happens to be the brother of the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte. They woo and then they marry but things are not quite as they seem at first. Betsy must fight for legitimacy and it is a fight that will take her across oceans and places that she never imagined going.

Betsy is a really interes
Jenny Q
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Author Interview + Giveaway @Let Them Read Books!

I wanted to read this novel the moment I saw it. I'm a sucker for American historical fiction, and I had no idea Napoleon's baby brother had spent time in the states and had even married an American girl, Betsy Patterson, "the Belle of Baltimore." The story follows Betsy from her childhood in the large family of a wealthy Baltimore shipping merchant to her meeting and whirlwind courtship with French naval officer Jerome Bonaparte, her father's
Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ruth is a friend, but my opinions are not influenced by that fact. Actually I'd entirely forgotten about this novel until I was looking for something to read about the Bonaparte dynasty and up popped this biofic about Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson Bonaparte, the first wife of Napoleon's younger brother Jerome.

Betsy is the oldest daughter of a large (and growing) Baltimore family, her father a prosperous but tightfisted merchant. She dreams of living in Europe--in fact, she has been given a "prophe
Cherryl Northcutt Valdez
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I purchased this book, I assumed it was about Josephine Bonaparte. what a pleasure surprise awaited me.
Wonderful first novel! Ruth Hull-Chatlien does an extraordinary job of bringing this piece of history to life. She particularly wields a deft hand with Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, offering up a character who is the perfect mix of fire, determination, haughtiness and vulnerability. Besty suffers greatly from her unfailing belief in her need and ability to rise far above her common origins but her uncommon ambitions are not supported by her family, particularly her dour, sensible merchant father. B ...more
Even though most of the real life people in this novel are not especially likeable, I still found this to be a fascinating look at their lives. I'm not a historian but my thoughts are that the author did substantial historical research.

I didn't know that one of Napoleon Bonaparte's younger brothers was at one time married to an American, Betsy Patterson from Baltimore. Betsy is full of longing for a more exciting life then being a merchant's daughter. She meets Jerome Bonaparte and is instantly
Pedro Puech
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to read this book since I saw its description. I had never heard of an American Bonaparte family. Ruth Chatlien tells the story of Betsy Patterson, an American girl who falls in love with Napoleon´s brother and spends her life trying to obtain the recognition of the Bonaparte family. Chatlien´s writing is engaging and based on extensive research. The characters are shown with all the passion and feelings involved in the plot, but she still preserves neutrality, letting the reader to be ...more
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book would make a great movie. After the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, someone asked John Adams what kind the government the new country would have. "A republic, if you can keep it," Adams said. This is a novel, based on a true story of an American woman who could not have cared less about keeping the republic. She hankered after royalty and all its perks. Sometimes you just wanted to shake her. At other times, you had to sympathize with her. Here was an intelligent woman with ta ...more
A very good read that gets buried in research. Apart from that, the author doesn't know where to cut/edit, wants to include everything she ever learned about this era and while interesting, it sometimes comes between the author and the reader. What does come across is Betsy Bonaparte's determination to make her son, Bo, a prince and herself a princess, in the end to their mutual detriment. I feel there was a personal reason why she spent so much time in Europe while he returned to the U.S. Howev ...more

I enjoyed this read. It was the first time I've read anything about Elizabeth Bonaparte and I found it all very interesting. The story flowed nicely and I found myself looking forward to reading it.
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte: Ruth Hull Chatlien

Scandalous some would say, flamboyant, headstrong, opinionated and definitely cultures and intelligent Baltimore’s Betsy Patterson sets the world on fire each time she enters a room. With her astute ability for numbers, her flair for fashion and her ambitious dreams Betsy would have fit in the 21st century as an activist, political figure or ambassador to the United States. Her quick wit, her openness and her ability to understand situations and
Mercedes Rochelle
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked this book up thinking it was the story of the American woman who married Bonaparte’s brother—the brother who would rather live in exile than give up love for his brother’s ambition. Oops! Wrong brother! Madame Bonaparte was the unfortunate girl who married Bonaparte’s charming, dissolute, inconstant brother—the other one—then spent the rest of her life hanging on to fragile hopes that their marriage would be recognized and their son would be ennobled. Oh, and that Jerome would find a wa ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was unaware of the story of Jerome Bonaparte and the American woman he married, Elizabeth Patterson. The story is told from Elizabeth's viewpoint and gives insight into the deep aspirations she had concerning royalty and her desire to be part of it. It also shines a bright light into the vagaries of Napoleon and his family, especially regarding what they considered to be an illegitimate marriage.

Jerome was a womanizer and extravagant spender, while Elizabeth was much more careful with her mone
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting historical novel set during the Napoleonic era both in the US and in Europe. It is about a little known (at least to me) romance between Napoleon's younger brother Jerome, and a young American woman from Baltimore, who married him in the United States, and then spent basically the rest of her life trying to be recognized by Napoleon and his family as a legitimate wife to Jerome, and her son as his legitimate heir. It also includes her interaction with various US president ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

Very intriguing reading on Betsy whom was blessed with living in America when it was first at its earliest stages of independence. Betsy had a goal of being a princess and making it to the bright lights, almost to the comparison of making it big in Hollywood. Betsy wanted to get from up under her evil father. One evening she had the chance encounter of meeting the young dashing brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, Jerome. Well let's just say this fairy tale didn't have th
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
erified Purchase
As a fan of historical fiction, I was interested to read about a woman from history I had not previously known. The plot of an ambitious young woman in love transcends all ages and audiences.The story and the writing draws you in and makes you feel as if you are there witnessing the events occur, wishing you actually were to shake some sense into this Madame Bonaparte! At times I had to put the book down because she was ambitious to a fault during points in her life, but then I r
Dorothy Fleming
Driven by a need for control and power at a time when women had neither, Betsy Patterson was known for her great beauty. She married Jerome Bonaparte, rather one Napoleon, against her father's wishes. Betsy and Jerome had a happy 2 years n. son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon wanted the marriage annulled, so Jerome left to try to gain his brother's approval. He never returned and eventually Marie a mother. Betsy never married, but did become quite well know as a socialite both in Baltimore ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't read much historical fiction, but I enjoyed the story about a f figure I didn't know anything about. The author was able to keep the story engaging while writing about the historical events. The war of 1812 is one of those periods that I was aware of, but didn't really have a firm grasp of. I'm sure I memorized facts for a test or two about this era, but nothing really stuck. With this story about Betsy Bonaparte, you really understand the entanglements between the US, France, and Englan ...more
Nancy barrett
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is well written and thoroughly researched. This reads more easily than other historical books, with a much less academic feel without disrupting the actual history. The story of a young women who marries Jerome Bonapatre (younger brother of Napolean) takes you through the struggles of the time period. Especially the struggles of a women who wants more than society allows at the time. At times I felt frustrated with Elizabeth and had to remember the time setting which made her actions a ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Betsy Bonaparte was interesting, but that's hardly the author's merit. With long passages of info dumping, the book read more like a detailed biography than a novel. My other problem was that I found none of the main characters too likeable, especially not Betsy. Even though I pitied her for what had happened to her, I couldn't really empathize; the emotional connection just wasn't there.
Nice read but nothing special.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
This reads, at times, more like a biography than a novel. Even with proper biographies, I’ve found it easier to engage with their subjects than I did with this book; no one, with the possible exception of Bo, come across with any warmth or likability. Betsy is selfish and self absorbed, full of her own self-importance. A thoroughly dislikable woman!

All I can say is that it’s a good job this was free. I’ve read it, now I’m deleting it from my kindle.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
As an avid historical fiction and historian, I enjoyed the subject of the book. It was easy to read and contained a draw to find out what would happen next. The author's overall writing style, grammatical and language errors prompted my lower rating. The style itself left me wanting something further and expecting more sophistication.

I did enjoy the subject of a lesser known person of history and thank the author for that.
Helen Ling
A Unusual American

I found Betsy to be extremely inflexible However she chose the life she enjoyed in spite of rejection. That she stayed in. Europe as long as she did leaving her son result in her losing control of him. It was an interesting read. But boring in some spots. Her character was well developed.
Future Cat Lady
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book.

I know some people had a hard time with all of the fact dumping but I was a history major, so I didn't seem to notice it. I really loved it and while I was reading it, I happened to take a road trip to visit a friend in Baltimore and then remembered about the book. Too perfect!

I gave it 4 stars because I felt like the ending just fizzled out which was disappointing.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
An interesting read about the life of Betsy Patterson Bonaparte. I enjoyed reading about Baltimore and the surrounding area in the 1800's. I like Ruth's writing and descriptions. I liked reading about a person I knew nothing about. I wish more about Bo and his adult years had been included in the story. ...more
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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 for middle-grade readers. Her award-winning first novel The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte (Amika Press) tells the story of the tumultuous life of Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson Bonaparte. Her second novel, Blood ...more

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