+Blog Book Tour+ The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien

Posted Monday, 10 March, 2014 by jorielov , , 4 Comments

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The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien
Betsy Bonaparte illustration was created by the author
Ruth Hull Chatlien

Published By: Amika Press, 2 December 2013
Official Author WebsitesSite | Twitter | Facebook
Converse via: #AmbitiousMmeBonaparte, #Bonaparte & #HistFic
Available Formats: Softcover and E-Book
Page Count: 484


Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on “The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte” virtual book tour through France Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of this book direct from the publisher Amika Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Intrigued to Read:

Becoming Josephine reconfirmed my enthused passion for the French Revolution set around Marie Antoinette, as the history of France during that period is as fiery as the war itself! I’ve only been seeking out French literature for a little over four and a half years now, slowly finding my way through historical fiction authors who offer something that perks my eye towards a time for the French which was both harrowing and uncertain at the same time. Being of French ancestry, I cannot even properly think of what it would have been like to see the cities flaming orange and the overturn government leaving the entire country in a state of distress. Part of the reason I am seeking out books about the Bonaparte’s (from different angles & relations) is a measure of a step towards understanding a part of history that is difficult to accept. There are always hidden stories within history, antidotes which go to reason out a secret ‘something yet known’ which could in turn draw our empathy to those who caused such widespread tragedy.

This particular story is centered around the American Bonaparte’s and the 1814 Battle of Baltimore.

Inspired to Share: To serve as a precursor to the story and the review of which follows!

“The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte” by Ruth Hull Chatlien

Book Trailer via Ruth Hull Chatlien


Author Biography:

Ruth Hull ChatlienRuth 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 (2013) 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.

Book Synopsis:

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.


The American “Bonaparte’s” through the eyes of Betsy:

The framework of this biographical fiction novel centers around a Bonaparte I have not yet become familiar or acquainted with previously. In point of fact truth, I did not even realise we had an “American” side of the Bonaparte family, nor did I expect the drama to start to unfold in June of 1870 whilst Betsy herself was in her late eighties! I was quite intrigued at that junction, as if this were to become either a time slip between her past and her present or a flashback of memories in sequence, I knew I would be in for quite the treat!

And, I had not realised the story would be set within the Revolutionary War era on our countries shores, as that is such an era full of intrigue awaiting to be uncovered out of the dust of history’s annuals! As Chatlien moves her reader to expand the concept of powdered wigs and intricately ornamented clothes, I felt as though the portal was quite complete whilst I exited my own alcove and traded it in for the rooms of Betsy’s youth! She was a child who stood out to me at the earliest bits of narrative, because she was determined not to befell the pitfalls of most of her generation. She had an instinctive mind for business as much as she had a heart for literature. Her greatest joy was her best gift in an age where girls were not always given the freedom to learn or grasp a portion of life outside the walls of domesticity.

Reading of her thoughts of inadequacy in tandem of her mother’s postpartum depression bouts, left me realising how important it was for Women’s Suffrage and the equality of rights bestowed between the sexes. Oft times its difficult to re-imagine how the world was bent against the freedoms girls of the latter half of the 20th Century had inside their fingertips as compared to all women of previous generations. Proper change evolved quite slowly whilst history was propelling itself at a frequent hyper-speed race towards the conquering of industry, commerce, and trade. At the backdrop were always the impression that the hardest measure of distance between a women’s right to advance her life in a manner in which she felt fitting and the life her father or guardians forced upon her was as wide as the seven seas! Only those of obstinate grit, gumpshun, and internal strength could transform their stations above what was generally presumed their fate. A pinch of daring dreams and the belief that if you tried to reach the stars, you’d at least grant yourself a position near them!

The capacity for knowledge was never limited to males, but its the ability for a male-driven world to endeavour to embrace the abilities of women that has been hard won.

My Review of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte:

As I started to alight inside Betsy’s life, I was arriving whilst her son was at his deathbed and her heart had grown melancholic about her past. Her weathered spirit encouraged her mind to wander backwards towards the days when she and her husband Jerome were at their happiest. Yet she was just as inclined to reflect upon the passageways of her youth as she grew up in high society Baltimore. As Chatlien inserted a mention of the plantation uprisings at Cape Francois, my mind darted back to Josephine’s narrow escape of the same uprising in Becoming Josephine. The intersection of one novel into this one allowed my mind the flexible breath to pick up nearly where I had left off with the other. A bit of a compass point to gather myself and reacquaint back in time to the point in which Betsy’s story is emerging.

I loved how Chatlien included French phrases into the dialect of Betsy’s teacher, Madame Lacomb because the inclusion added a unique touch to the reality of Betsy’s life. I adore foreign languages inserted into stories, as it allows us to grasp a portion of the words in which we would have heard had we been inside the shoes of the main character! Chatlien continued the French language throughout the story during exchanges between Betsy and Jerome.

Betsy Patterson was a young woman who had set her cap to a loftier goal than most of her generation; to befit the dream of her yearnings, she would indeed attempt to draw the eye of a worthy European who could aspire her position in life to royalty. She was not keen on becoming a housewife sworn to duties of child-rearing and domestic arts. She had the tenacious mind to implore more out of her days than her peers were willing to understand. Outside of her close confidante of Henriette, that is! I felt she was blinded by ambition whilst pursuing Jerome Bonaparte, but she would not be the first woman who felt a match in marriage could solidify her ill-thought out plans. Her grounding of internal anxiety came out of her collected memories of her dearly beloved Maxims which endears her to you, knowing that she is a young soul searching for her wings.

Torn apart from the man of whom she felt most beloved (Jerome Bonaparte), Betsy was forced into exile by her beguiling father and brother William. Her stronghold faith in Jerome’s sincerity inspired her to dig in her heels and refute any future without him. I celebrated seeing her efforts extolled in matrimony! Within the early bits of their honeymoon, Betsy learnt that Jerome had deceived her afterall and I found that to be a bit of truth ebbing out what is readily known about men who act in haste towards marriage. My heart grieved for a bit as she was truly the honest one in the union, never-failing in her heart’s desire nor in her protection of whom carried her heart’s vow. Shortly thereafter Chatlien included the scene of Jerome and Betsy having their portraits painted, which flashed back in mind the recollections an elder Betsy had mentioned in the Prologue, and for me this was a struck of continuity brilliance!

The intrigue of the politics of both America on the footheels of Revolution and of France, caught up in a new regime of power struggling to keep itself afloat left me in the full grip of Chatlien’s ability to tone down the complexity and examine the era from both sides of the Atlantic! The intricacies threaded through their lives became thwarted and entangled at each turn due to Jerome’s connection to Napoleon, who very much was attempting to control his brother’s life at such a distance as France. As they made a determined effort to restore themselves to France, the intrigue of the harrowing journey Betsy would take to reach French soil was beyond riveting as it was etched in danger at each turn. Including whilst trying to protect her unbourne babe for whom had not yet had the pleasure of meeting his father who was kept separate from them. Her tumultuous return to the States gave me a window of what lengths war and insurrection can separate those who are caught up in the actions of others.

I could only imagine what was rollicking through Betsy’s mind and heart whilst she was being tested against will to re-acquire her beloved’s presence. I am thankful to have this particular biographical fiction cross my path, because it has inspired me to seek out more historical novels set around the Bonaparte’s. For every imagined truth we all perceive about those who lived in the historical past, there is oft-times a hidden story surrounding the very people who might have repelled our interest. I oft wondered about the lives interconnected to Napoleon, the unsung voices of his reign, and through Becoming Josephine and The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte I am embarking towards that end; of unveiling the incredible women who not only backed their men but forged through all the doubts of their eras to secure their futures. And, for this I thank the authors who are giving their readers quite a heap to ruminate on!

A survivor’s heart:

Crossing the North Atlantic waters when France was on the footsteps of impending war by the actions Napoleon was taking to assert his authority and rule, made me feel anxious for Betsy’s first journey to France. The bravery she must have needed to encourage out of her bosom to be steadfast in Jerome’s company is unparalleled. Travel has always had its fair share of difficulties and cause for concern for personal safety, but what I appreciated in how Chatlien was relaying the story of the Bonaparte’s taking a step towards returning to Jerome’s native country, is how difficult it was in that timescape for even the simplest matters to become resolved. Most of their intimate lives were controlled by their families guidance and obsternational tactics, but when they are finally able to break free and live as man and wife, I found that the world was even less inviting than prior to their betrothal!

Despite the looming obstacles in her path, I found Betsy Bonaparte to be a strong-willed and determined spirit to always find the silver lining when life dealt her a stronger hand than she felt she could incur. Her heart rallied against the rakish claims against her husband but moreso she was willing to put her desires of heart and society alleviation ahead of her anxiety over how perception could turn the tides against her and her husband. It must have taken the strength of an oxen to circumvent society’s presumptions whilst finding complete joy in being surrounded by Jerome. The two shared a love which passionately was inflamed from the moment they both felt entwined to the other, and regardless of each attempt to draw them distant from each other, they resolved to remain united.

Jerome Bonaparte: out of the shadow of Napoleon:

My early impression of Jerome Bonaparte was a man with a decisiveness about him, unto giving himself an inflated position of command. His arrogance in disregarding even the most informal of societal rules for courtship were a bit rebuking, as he would lay claim to Betsy on-sight rather than by virtue of her countenance. By the time they were able to come together in a proper courtship, Betsy’s ideals of marriage were tested by her father’s faults on infidelity grounds. She positioned herself to give Jerome a fighting chance at her heart, but became torn in love and loyalty to her family when her father sought to drive a wedge between them. In this regard, I felt Bonaparte was a gracious gentlemen in his attempts to not only appease her father but to find a common ground to where his most desired future with Betsy could still be secured. What earlier reeked of arrogance might have actually been a case of love at first sight. They were bound by the rules of engagement which dictated what they could and could not do. In some ways, by the time I reached page 62, where Jerome is in conference with Betsy about needing to depart, I felt a hitching of remorse for both of them. Wondering how they could repair the fracture her father was creating and what incident of reparations could ensure their bond.

Jerome Bonaparte at first felt like he living within the shadows of his brother, Napoleon. As time progressed forward I found him to be a wholly strong individual in his own rights with a pedigree that took his future into uncertain realms. Listening to his side of his brother’s endeavours of conquerment and control, one would wonder how anyone could refute the claims! His version of Napoleon is one of saviour rather than destructor! His reckless pursuit of living free from the confines and chains of propriety gave him a few more woes than he would have necessarily had to endure. His impediment and impulsive nature sparked an image I had of his brother, as both Bonaparte’s now appeared to suffer one common personality quirk: neither accepted anyone’s opinion on how best to obtain what they desired and felt due their course.

Eloquent Wordsmiths & Passionate Researchers:

Ms. Chatlien is one prime example of an eloquent wordsmith who is a dedicatedly passionate researcher of her book’s subject, setting, and tone! She is one of the writers I am thankful to uncover for her guiding hand with witticism and cunning turns of phrase which bolster the novel’s setting within the era in which the story exists. The elaborate and delicate attentions to details, to endue the genteel society’s preferences of colours, textiles, and surroundings allows your mind to sink into the artistry of the story’s set decorations as much as the words of the author’s palette. I am always championing the writers who take such a decisive hand to interweave such realism into their historical fiction novels which impart a duality of purpose: a slice of a historical antidote set to life in fiction and the intimate portrait of a living historical person lit inside a biographical fiction. Appreciators of stories like these will find a balm in the wind whilst making sure their settled into a comfy chair to whittle away the hours enraptured in a time portal back into the 1700s!


Virtual Road Map for

“The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte” Blog Tour:

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte Tour via France Book Tours

Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

on my Bookish Events page!

What do you find captivating about the Bonaparte family!? Are you familiar with this side of the Bonapartes or did my review inspire you to seek out the title!? How did you first come to appreciate French Revolution history in or around the time of Marie Antoinette, and why do you think their history is just as captivating to us now as it was to the world then!? Do you find biographical fiction novels easier to swallow the lives of historical figures who piqué your interest?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte”, book synopsis, author photograph of Ms. Chatlien, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. The book trailer by Ruth Hull Chatlien had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.Post dividers were provided by Shabby Blogs, who give bloggers free resources to add personality to their blogs. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Francois de La Rochefoucauld (Biography) – (en.wikipedia.org)

Francois de La Rochefoucauld (Quoted) – (en.wikiquote.org)

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 10 March, 2014 by jorielov in 18th Century, 19th Century, Baltimore, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Clever Turns of Phrase, Debut Novel, Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson Bonaparte, France, France Book Tours, French Literature, French Revolution, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Napoleon Bonaparte, Passionate Researcher, Revolutionary France, Revolutionary War Era, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage




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4 responses to “+Blog Book Tour+ The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien

  1. Shannon Leigh

    Your fellow tour host, The Most Happy Reader,

    Bonjour mon amie,

    I couldn’t agree with you more!! Especially on the heels of Becoming Josephine my eyes have truly been opened to mounds of insights I have never considered or encountered. I am truly EAGERLY anticipating the further exploration of all the Bonaparte women and do so look forward to more from Ruth Chatlien. So glad you too are over the moon as I am and especially since we are in the habit of touring France Book Tours on the same titles. I look forward to your future opinions and can’t wait to enjoy the future releases with you.

    Oh, Madame Guillotine’s blog recently had a piece on Napoleon’s sister… an interesting gal herself. Be sure to check it out.

    • You’re quite welcome, Ms. Chatlien!

      I will be talking about your lovely debut novel for quite a long time yet to come, because I want everyone to get to know Betsy Bonaparte! As much as I want them to discover your ability to emotionally connect the reader with a family many of us had preconceptions of but never truly understood! Her life and your book will be in my heart always!

      I cannot wait to see what you create next!

      And, your tweet the other day warmed me to the very core!

      Bless you!

      And, may the muse always be an encouragement to your imagination wherever your literary wanderings take you next! :)

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