Category: Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson Bonaparte

_+ #atozchallenge _+ 26 Days | 26 Essays [epic journey] Today is Letter “B”. Hint: Living Histories

Posted Wednesday, 2 April, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Day 1: Letter B of the A to Z ChallengeYesterday was the beginning of my EPIC JOURNEY towards revealing why I am a book blogger & what motivates me as a reader! I am involved in a world-wide globally connected blogosphere challenge where each blogger who signs into the participant linky is quite literally confirming their express desire to blog straight [except on Sundays!] for *26 Days!* whilst writing *26!* most intriguing & thought-producing alphabet essays! Or, to be comically inspiring, randomly cheeky, and otherwise delightfully entertaining! The bloggers who have signed into the challenge are from all walks of blogosphere life: book bloggers united alongside lifestyle gurus; writers of all literary styles nudged up against travelogues; the gambit runs the full course of each and every theme, topic, subject, and genre you could possibly light your heart with joy to broach in a blog! And, the curious bit to the journey is where your posts lead you as much as where other blogger’s posts inspire you! It’s this fantastic community to celebrate the spirit within the blogosphere as much as the spirit of connection amongst the bloggers who might not have crossed paths with each other otherwise. After all, the road map for blogs is as wide and large as the actual world outside the nethersphere of websites, pixels, and memes! Walk with us whilst we discover a bit about ourselves, our blog, & each other!

I am blogger #552 out of 2279!

{Notice the slight increase!?}


Few may realise it could be possible, but it was only a handful of years since I pulled myself  out of this EPIC READERS RUT to where I could lay heart and mind back into the depths of the books I always loved to consume! I was even without a proper library branch to call ‘home’, when in late Spring 2009 a new branch opened in a tucked away hamlet! A hamlet by all definitions of being wholly true to itself after the years had raged away its essence and left behind an artistically creative vibe bent on preservation of historic homes, community united festivals and fairs, as well as one of the best self-guided walking tours I have ever come across as you get to amble through time itself, whilst hinged to the present. It was during those hours of having the ability to resume where I had left off a decade before in my reading adventures, I started to gather books which perked an interest inside me that might not even have been there previously! Imagine only being able to collect books by authors you were nearly certain you’d love and appreciate for most of those years, but for whichever reason you could not soak into the narratives because your mind wasn’t willing to go into the heart of what was held within the text!? Imagine if you will, a floodgate of epic proportions allows you the ability to search, pick up, and gather as many books as you could physically carry out of the library whilst re-discovering where your literary heart wanted to wander!

I was bursting at the seams wanting to share my newly discovered reading life which is why the original ‘Jorie Loves A Story’ was a private journal shared amongst her close friends as a way to encourage bookish discussions and reflections based on the books she was reading OR even books that she felt she would enjoy only to discover had not quite floated her boat in the end! She wrote lists of books newly published whilst she had discovered them at local bookstores (big box as at that point in time the local Indies were washed away) and mused about how many ILLs (inter-library loans) and holds (regular in-library materials) one girl could possibly handle within thirty days!? It was this blissful joy of knowing I was going to walk back into my imagination, all the while uncertain about what I might discover about myself and about the characters I was going to meet. In those early dawning months, I was curiously attracted to titles such as “Girl in a Blue Dress” by Gaynor Arnold. I remember going on hold for this lovely book a few times before I could settle the hours to sit for a spell and actually read it! This is the very novel which introduced the idea of B I O G R A P H I C A L F I C T I O N into my heart! I say this because truly, when you sit down to read a fictional accountment of a living person who actually walked the earth, you are properly engaged heart, mind, and soul with their affairs! Their ability to walk outside the pages and land within your living reality as though they were simply popping out for a bit of takeaway nourishment is what makes this particular branch of literature as riveting as it is!

B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N
is a nexus of immersion into the inner heart of a living person’s life.
– Jorie, of Jorie Loves A Story


Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

When I first decided to undertake being a Hostess for blog tours, I wanted to use the opportunities I was being granted to flex my wings and undertake reading books with topics & subjects I may not have had the honour of reading previously. One new fascination of mine is of Revolutionary France, of which I delved into whilst reading “The Golden Hour” by Maiya Williams. A Young Adult book I discovered in the catalogue for my local library, which quite literally changed my perception of the genre! There is a lot of dark undertones happening right now in Young Adult literature and although, they have merit to those who appreciate them, I seek out a different kind of ‘YA’ to read. I entered back into the realms of Children’s Literature with the intent of picking up where I had left off in my own childhood, as I am an Auntie to nieces & nephews as much as I am a Mum-In-Waiting. (see blog lower sidebar: look for Brave Love badge) Uniquely enough, I discovered another quirky French YA book entitled “The Sixty-Eight Rooms” by Marianne Malone! From there my intrepid curious heart watched a classic motion picture on Turner Classic Movies (TCM is quite literally one of two favourite channels of mine! My Twitter feeds elude to the second!) which haunted me a bit as it was approaching Marie Antoinette’s life just prior and just leading after her family lost their lives at the guillotine. I knew there was a good chance hosting for France Book Tours & Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours I might start to intersect books which dealt with the French Revolution! And, happily they started to alight into view when Becoming Josephine entered my life!

I had this to share ahead of sharing my reading impressions of the author & story:

I simply adore historical fiction, including historical biographical fiction, which I think this falls under, as it’s about Bonaparte and his wife! I like the backdrop of the story, and how strong Rose had to become in order to overtake her plight! You see, I have a bit of a long-standing admiration for the French Revolution, even though by many estimates I have only just begun my sojourn into this fascinating section of literature! My attention is thus esteemed to continue to seek out stories set before, during, and after the French Revolution! What can I say? Once you become attached to the living characters of whom most of the books are based upon, in as much as the characters created to walk amongst their living counterparts, you find that one book or five is not quite enough to fully encompass the history of what is left behind to be known!

Stemming from this short history of mine with French Literature, there was a cursory exploration of Bonaparte whilst I was eighteen! Having ducked out of a heavy rainstorm and into the warmth glow of a bookshoppe I had accidentally discovered along a main street – I took the balm of books against nature’s thunderstorm! As I wandered around, I remember finding a rather curious little book, tattered yet readable, (as the bookshoppe sold new and used copies!) about the life of Napoléon Bonaparte! Intrigued I purchased the book and stored it inside a rain-proof bookslip! Ever since that aplomb discovery I have whet my appetite for more! I would be curious to learn how you alighted to read about the French?

– quoted from my review of “Becoming Josephine” by Heather Webb

B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N for me allows for a more inter-personal connection to the person stepping forward out of history’s door. I have attempted to read full-on biographies, but more than naught, I fail in making an emotional connection much less an interested one as some of them can languish rather than enliven. When I turn to B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N I feel as though the writer has planted me directly into the living person’s shoes and innermost thoughts. I get to breathe in their essence and live a bit in the world in which they knew whilst they were alive. Each of us arrives at a connecting point inside books at different junctions and fixtures, this perhaps is mine. The most alarming part of reading about Josephine as she grew to become Bonaparte’s wife is this reflection on behalf of France:

The backdrop of Becoming Josephine is quintessentially Revolutionary France, where the French hinged between the start of the revolt and the ensuing Reign of Terror. A shuddering of emotions always rings through me whilst thinking on the harder hitting realities of the age which the French had to endure. Webb has a way of acknowledging the back-story of history behind the coattails of the character’s lives in such a way, as to gently guide the reader forward and through, rather than shocking us to our core. The revolution ekes out in small fashion, where rumours of revolt start to erupt in the salons of the day, and where the commoners start to realise they need to launch into a retreat from Royal rule. Part of me understands this and part of me grieves for the loss of the Royal family, due to how brutal the Revolution turns and ends.

And, yet at the heart of the center core of the Revolution you have Josephine and Napoleon, two people I never thought I’d see come together, now that I know the origins of Josephine’s past. The tapestry of fashion is lit and gilded behind the tumult which has been brewing to explode. Interspersed with the flamboyance of cloth and jewels, you gather the sense of urgency in the fever of desperation.

– quoted from my review of “Becoming Josephine” by Heather Webb

Illuminations by Mary SharrattIlluminations: a novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt was a novel I came to acquaint myself with through Shelf Awareness for Readers (bi-weekly Literary newsletter). As I researched more about the author, I realised I was stumbling across an intuitive writer who dared to shed a light on unknown fixtures of historical merit. As much as I knew she was a writer who broke the barriers and wrote the stories which evoked a passion within her to tell. I am naturally drawn to writers who forge their own literary paths unto where their stories need to find a reader who appreciates the alternative nature of their writing voice. I like seeing writers taking risks for their stories as much as listening to the characters who step forward in their mind’s eye. At times, those characters are ethereal apparitions of a living soul whose own history would be better served in a living narrative than a testament of facts and notations of life milestones.

To illumine the mind and strengthen the spirit,…

I have always known of the interconnectedness of humanity, the natural world, and the realm behind the veil of this world which is the gateway to spirit world. Each of us is connected to each other and to what is not yet understood though believed to be in existence on faith alone. What I appreciated about reading Hilegard’s story is that she is touching on the elemental truths that each spiritual person comes to realise and accept: the circle of life and of time, the abundance of the interlocking connections, and how we are only in the infancy of our understandings of the greater whole that we strive to obtain whilst we walk Earth.

By examining her life through this biographic exposition, we are striving to become closer to understanding what she came to understand herself. Each of us are given gifts in life to share and pass down, small legacies of goodwill, hope, peace, love, charity, and grace. We tap into where our lifepath is leading us whilst we are openly receptive to where we are being guided to go next. Hilegard was unique in this, as she viewed herself as a flawed human who made more mistakes than deemed repentable, and yet, she could not help acknowledge that she had become a vessel of truth, as chosen as her destiny to give others’ insight that they were not privy too. She reminds me of women I have heard about prior to her, who never felt they were good enough to be placed in a position of importance. How humbling it is then, to realise that these are the women and spiritual beings who are called upon to do the most good during their lifetime!? To ingenuate a plausibility of which most of us might forego or bypass whilst caught up in the clatterment of living our lives!?

– quoted from my review of Illuminations: a novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt

To extend out of our known reality and intersect on the path of another who lived more than a handful of centuries ago, is the fruitious blessing of reading. We get to pull ourselves in and out of our comfort zones. We get to take a risk ourselves, with our heart and with our mind’s ability to process the imagery and historical truism that we find knitted into B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N. We honour the past and the lives in which were lived each time we juxtaposition ourselves into the fractured space where the temporal gravity of time yields a veil in which we can step backwards and forwards; endeavouring greater empathy and giving us a humbling account of humanity.

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull ChatlienThere are moments where I truly feel we are given select books to read at a certain fixed point in which we are meant to read them. For instance, if I hadn’t previously read Becoming Josephine I would not have realised the greater scope of circumstances which befell Betsy Patterson inside The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien! The full realisation of the breadth of how their lives were cross-sected hit me will full force whilst I was in the early chapters of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte. The fabric of space we set out to explore in literature become little beckoning notes to the universe. Notes in which flutter into the cosmos and are answered in the curious ability of having books placed into our hands which carry-on the research and conversation which was already broached.

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!

– quoted from my review of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien

Nor did I ever find myself inquisitively compassionate on behalf of the Bonaparte’s. Napoleon Bonaparte is simultaneous with nearly ever other dictatorial ruler who attempted to sequester and compress his rule over others who had natural bourne freedoms and rights. There are members of his family who were outside the depth of knowledge of what his true convictions and actions were to be undertook, and in their histories we find compassion. The mere fact that even his family was left privy to being pawned in and out of his schemes is a grief they never could shake free. There are other aspects of the French Revolution which goes against most of what is widely known about the era and in some ways, not all of it is rosy from the perspectives of the commoners either. And, this is were being a book blogger is a true gift. I am able to journall out my thoughts and ruminations as I read. Sharing them with an audience I hope is willing to take the journey with me and perhaps even start a conversation based upon what I have expressed. Rooting in on the underlining issues and coming to a connection stitched solely through what was read, internalised, and processed. Conversations are a unique benefit because they help pool our ponderments and gives us the will to examine differentiating revelations. It is my hope to garnish these kinds of conversations on each post where a reader drops by and adds his/her thoughts into the comment threads.

Sebastian's Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger

There are moments too, which arise for a book blogger where one falters the confidence to believe she’s picked a book that might be a bit past her ability to handle. Although I instantly requested Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger my ruminative thoughts after my review state my full emotional state prior to picking up the book:

I dare thought it might not be plausible to settle into a thick slice of historical suspense such as a story of Charlemagne, until I was given the chance to read Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder! A book which lives up to the virtues of historical fiction by etching into our mind’s eye the very inclinations and notions of the age in which Steger’s central figure lived and breathed. It was an age of boldness and an age of religious upheaval. The battle to control the power of the land and the power of the people was not forged through mediation. It was a time which bespoke more of war wounds and proven allegiances based on leadership in the field. To approach the narrative with a slight hesitation of what the context would reveal to me, gave me a bit of an edge once I was ensconced! My nerves melted with each word and paragraph I hungrily drank in to see where the author was taking me next. His ability to light the story from within the heart of the narrative itself is a gift.

– quoted from my review of Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger

Charlemagne is a near-ghost entity whose entered the nethersphere of my literary walk for as many years as I first drew an inclinating nod towards being a history buff! The corridors of history are as closely-knit together as the world of art, in which, you don’t have traverse very far before hearing echoes of Charlemagne! Yet. The curious bit to those echoes is that oft-times they are not completely dimensional of who the man behind the ‘infamous name’ was or what he represented of himself in life. If I hadn’t clued into an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” I might still be a bit in the dark about the fullness of his transformative soul and his heart for leading his mind towards redemptive restitution. Steger pulls you into the folds of where the myth of Charlemagne leads into the man Charlemagne became.

Citadel by Kate MosseA reader’s heart bleeds as readily as the character’s whose life is afflicted and fraught with conflictual adversity. Mosse is an author I first learnt of through my Mum’s suggestion to read Labyrinth. As this book came up for review, I instantly tipped my hat to read Citadel as it felt as my moment to read Kate Mosse had arrived. My goal was simple enough: read the first two books in the series before proceeding into Citadel; except time and life had other plans! As a book blogger you have to adapt and stay flexible to everything that can arrive out of the clear blue, whilst still being able to bring the stories your reviewing into the limelight of your reading hours.

History has a unique way of imparting important acknowledgements out of the past, by finding the ways in which the words can travel through vessels of time. Words handed and passed down through generations, from family to stranger seeking a confidence of protection is one of the most reliable methods of keeping knowledge secret from eyes who would take the same words and twist them into harmful deeds. It’s how we as a society react and root out resilience in the face of our foremost dire fears and shake away the rootings of evil. Resistance from oppression and the strife of a regime bent against the welfare of the people is true courage lit aflame.

Sandrine is an intuitive woman who was set apart from others; she could see past the veils of our reality and into the next life just beyond our focus. She was tuned into mystical truths which gave her a bolster of strength in the nanoseconds where her own inner resolve faltered. Her life was writ to be in service of others, and in of giving all of her mind, body, and soul to fighting for the sanctity of life, liberty, and freedom. Citadel is epic in scale, emotionally convicting, and powerfully written to leave you quite still at its conclusion retrospectively museful, and enlightened. Your heart shatters and aches in an indescribable way when you read the four sentences on page 673. With eyes too blurry and a heart too gutted to carry-on into the Epilogue.

– quoted from my review of Citadel by Kate Mosse

To Live Forever by Andra Wakins

The best surprise I have had in a long time as a book blogger is having a blog tour alight in my Inbox which stirred my avidly curious imagination into drinking the proportional elements of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Wakins! The very first time I saw the book cover art and hungrily read the book synopsis, I knew I had found lightning in the bottle, because the manner in which the story was presenting itself, it was a one-off chance to get to know an emerging new writer on the peripatetic jolt beginning of her literary career! A long-term appreciator of Western fiction and the expeditions of early American frontier settlers, Lewis & Clark are a fixture of my memories of frontier living. To take a formidable presence such as Meriwether Lewis and re-invent the way in which we soak into B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N as his story is only half of the scope of the story is literary brilliance!

The story is interwoven as a refractive mirror of the Natchez Trace itself. The harder you believe any blight of adversity is in your life to conquer and overcome, the more your spirit will start to believe your too fragile to try anything. The Trace is a test of wills as much as it’s a test of inner fortitude to re-strengthen our shield against unwanted storms and periods of stress which arise out of nowhere. Life can ebb and flow, bobbing us along until we’re ready to see what our eyes blinded us towards revealing. All of our passageways lead us further towards where our feet are meant to land, but what if we hold ourselves back from the greatest revelations of all? Simply because we’re not willing to alight where we’re lead to go? The Trace is unique in that it withholds its past like a tightly woven tapestry. Each piece of its innate soul is stitched inside the weathered path where feet and souls mingled into the mist. There lessons linger and their spirits shudder to grieve.

There is an ever-knowing pool of truth and hope awaiting us around each bend and turn. The people we feel we are ‘randomly’ encountering are the kind of teachers and advisers we might never expect would be important to our growth. Listen with compassion. Be kind to strangers who might one day become a cherished friend. Grow through friendship and rise each day realising the beauty of the hour. Our lives are leading us through the light and back inside it.

– quoted from my review of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Wakins

The Tenor by Peter Danish

On the foot-heels of Meriwether Lewis, I am embarking on an intimate portrait of a previously unknown opera singer Maria Callas, as I entered into the fictional account of how a soldier she knew in real life became the living angel who saved her. I was curious about this book due to my appreciation of opera (classical opera, rock opera, & modern opera band) and for finding a hidden story out of a portion of World War II I was not expecting to unearth! These are the stories I like to discovery the most: fixtures within history who had the most to lose and the most to gain, whose lives were lived nearly unknown to each generation who came after they had lived. Men and women whose spirits are rejoicing a bit each time a writer clues in on their legacy and gives a light upon their days with a new mirth of compassion and understanding. The past deserves compassion due to how difficult most of the harder chapters were to survive as they were lived through.

As a precursor to my review which goes live on Friday, 4th of April, I want to share with you a piece of Mr. Danish’s interview:

What touched you most about the story whilst giving you the breadth of creating “The Tenor”?

Danish responds: I originally learned the story of the soldier from Arianna Stassinopoulos (now more famously known as Arianna Huffington, of Huffington Post fame) and her biography of Maria Callas. But when I read a half-dozen other accounts of her life, none of them mentioned him! So I sought out an old family friend who was a personal friend of Callas (actually a friend of my ex-in-laws – yes, I cared enough to reach out to my ex-in-laws!) He informed me that the story was indeed true, and not only had the soldier existed, but Maria had a school-girl crush on him! And that the two of them often sang together! The fact that they sang together struck me deeply. I just knew he had to be a fellow opera singer, because only another opera singer would have recognized the subtleties, the nuances that separate the good from the great and the great from the once-in-a-lifetime voices.

– quoted from my Interview with Peter Danish, author of “The Tenor”

The one B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N novel which slipped through my fingers this year is Nancy Horan’s “Under a Wide & Starry Sky” of which I requested twiceover and was unfortunately one of too many who had itched to read the story! I even had the book arrive on hold at my local library only to boomrang back as its timing in my life was quite ill-conceived! I am hopeful that before Summer starts her wrath of a reign, I can dig into the biographical sketch of Robert Louis Stevenson and get to know one writer out of history I was never quite keen on reading, but felt there was more to him than perhaps I could have foreseen!

However, there is another B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N account of a life I have not fully explored on my blog but of which captured my heart full the first six months of 2013! Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler had the ability to beseech Zelda’s voice out of the grave, presenting herself as strong as she were in life. Fowler’s writer’s road towards publication of Z is quite the testament of how one writer is destined to pen the life of a living person, giving themselves a history of an attachment with them, and enabling the readers who find their stories an ability to understand them. I read Fowler’s novel through Book Browse and participated in an exchange of forum based conversations, whereupon I felt most of the other readers entered into the book and the discussions bias against Zelda Fitzgerald. I went in with an open eye for giving Zelda the freedom to be herself and to explain herself for her actions and lifestyle if she felt it necessary. What is rather evident as you read Z is that Zelda was living under thumb of a controlling and manipulative husband who self-less desire for fame, fortune, and immortal legacy in print overrode her most basic needs. The most gutting part of the book for me is the ending chapters, where we start to see Zelda brave the will to remove herself from the toxic environment and start to stake her own claim on her life. I realise I tweeted I would re-read this volume of her life this year, in 2014, but I still feel as though I need a bit of distance before I re-open her story. Sometimes, the books we read are not meant to be examined in length but absorbed privately and cherished forevermore. Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald might be one of mine. The capstone of spending time with her was seeing the modern remake of “The Great Gatsby” in which the Fitzgeralds were illuminated on camera and the life in which they lived were on full display. It was so clearly evident of a fictional account of how dangerous they lived and how daring they believed they were invisible that I was emotional off-kilter for my birthday! As it was the film I elected to celebrate seeing!

And, there lies the beauty of uncovering B I O G R A P H I C A L  F I C T I O N as it forces us to emphatically connected the threads in which all of us are bonded.


A bit of an extra surprise for those A to Z Challengers

who patiently awaited my “Letter B”:

The Tenor by Peter Danish Book Trailer by Peter Danish


Thank you for joining me on DAY 2 | A to Z Challenge!

I am a girl named Jorie who loves a story!
I am a bookish library girl on a quest for literary enlightenment!
I am predominately self-taught and library educated!
I am Mademoiselle Jorie!
Thank you for joining me on this journey!

This marks my second post for the:

A to Z Challenge

And, might I add as an observation on Day 2? 

Why do you think we illicit such a curious attachment to understanding a person through biographical fiction OR within the tomes of biographies & autobiographies!? Where does your personal preference lie when wanting to drink in the history of a person who lived!?

{SOURCES: A to Z Challenge Participant & Letter B Badge provided by the A to Z Challenge site for bloggers to use on their individual posts & blogs to help promote the challenge to others. Book covers provided by France Book Tours & Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for promotion and review on Jorie Loves A Story; used with permission. The book trailer by Peter Danish 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. }

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Wednesday, 2 April, 2014 by jorielov in A to Z Challenge, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Browse, Bookish Discussions, Charlemagne, Debut Novel, Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson Bonaparte, France Book Tours, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Josephine Bonaparte, Maria Callas, Meriwether Lewis

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

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

Parajunkee Designs

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

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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!

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“The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte” Blog Tour:

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte Tour via France Book Tours

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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. Post dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

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

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

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