Wondrous Beauty - The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte
- United States
More informationFrom the award-winning historian: the remarkable life of "the most beautiful woman of nineteenth-century Baltimore," whose marriage in 1803 to JErome Bonaparte, the youngest brother of Napoleon, became inextricably bound to the diplomatic and political nineteenth-century histories of the United States, France, and England. From the author of Revolutionary Mothers ("Incisive, thoughtful, spiced with vivid anecdotes. Don't miss it."-Thomas Fleming) and Civil War Wives ("Utterly freshSensitive, poignant, thoroughly fascinating."-Jay Winik).
In Wondrous Beauty, Carol Berkin tells the story of this audacious, outsize life: how her romantic, passionate marriage infuriated Napoleon and resulted in his banning the then-pregnant Betsy Bonaparte from disembarking in any European port, demanding that his brother either lose all power and remain married to that "American girl"-or renounce her, marry a woman of Napoleon's choice, and reap the benefits. JErome ended the marriage and was made king of Westphalia; Betsy fled to England, and gave birth to her son and only child, JErome's namesake. Berkin writes how this naIve, headstrong American girl returned to Baltimore a cynical, independent woman, refusing to seek social redemption and return to obscurity through a quiet marriage to a member of Baltimore's merchant class; how she disdained America's obsession with money-making, its growing ethos of democracy, and the rigid gender roles that confined women to the parlor and the nursery, and sought a European society where women created salons devoted to intellectual life and where traditions of aristocracy dominated society; and, we see how as a shrewd investor she transformed a modest pension from the French government into a fortune that rivaled many a (male) financier.