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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien


The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hall Chatlien
Kindle eBook, 485 pages
Amika Press
December 1, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

“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.”

This was one of those books that I really enjoyed reading but one that took me forever to finish.  I just never had enough time to really get into it at each reading.  Once I found sufficient time to sit down and really read, I couldn't get enough of the novel.  

I had no idea that any of the Bonapartes had visited nor resided in America - so it was an interesting side of French/American history to explore.  It was the first time I had explored the reign of Napoleon from the American side of the Atlantic Ocean within the context of events here.  I enjoyed that the novel was set in historical Baltimore.  As you know I love American set historical fiction, and this is not a setting which I have read before.  Quite frankly, Baltimore was not all that interesting of a location - a seaside merchant city.  

Betsy is one of those characters that I instantly liked and it is fun to follow her perspective.  She is headstrong and determined to achieve what she perceives as her destiny.  Her emotions feel very real and almost as if the reader is experiencing them too.  However, occasionally this persistence started to feel a little bit like overkill and toward the end I began to be frustrated by her.  Jerome Bonaparte I actually enjoyed in the beginning, even though I knew he was going to be not the best character.

The author’s writing style is very easy to read and enjoyable.  Events flowed together seamlessly and I was always interested to see what came next.  This was a story that was more of an emotional journey/personal exploration for the Betsy, rather than an action filled narrative.  I do look forward to seeing what this author decides to explore next.

This is author Ruth Hall Chatlien's debut novel. You can visit her website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Or how about this book trailer?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

TAMB_Tour Banner

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour (which already ended) by visiting the HFVBT website.


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Sounds like an intriguing story.

    1. It was a different sort of novel - not a whole lot of action, but character driven.


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