Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic by Charlene M. Boyer Lewis (review)

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic by Charlene M. Boyer... Book Reviews Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic Charlene M. Boyer lewis Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012 280 pp. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (1785­1879) is the kind of juicy historical character biographers long to discover and readers delight to encounter. For scholars, she is well sourced, with ample documentation to, from, and about her. For readers, the rich, beautiful, elite, spirited Elizabeth seems almost more historical fiction than fact. She is also possessed of a personality and wit that anyone could appreciate. Who can resist someone who, as an ardent critic of the new United States and the republican experiment, characterizes her fellow citizens as the "low names & lower natures [that] make up [the] motley race of this Bastard republic" (223)? The problem with such an irresistible character is that her chronicler runs the risk of rendering her as just that--a character. It would be easy to fall into the story of well-born Baltimore native "Betsy" Patterson, who is swept off her feet by Napoleon's brother Jerome (the future king of Westphalia), marrying him only a few months later, on Christmas Eve 1803. The whirlwind courtship, the dazzling marriage, Jerome's eventual abandonment of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Literature University of North Carolina Press

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic by Charlene M. Boyer Lewis (review)

Early American Literature, Volume 49 (1) – Mar 9, 2014

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1534-147X
Publisher site
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Abstract

Book Reviews Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic Charlene M. Boyer lewis Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012 280 pp. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (1785­1879) is the kind of juicy historical character biographers long to discover and readers delight to encounter. For scholars, she is well sourced, with ample documentation to, from, and about her. For readers, the rich, beautiful, elite, spirited Elizabeth seems almost more historical fiction than fact. She is also possessed of a personality and wit that anyone could appreciate. Who can resist someone who, as an ardent critic of the new United States and the republican experiment, characterizes her fellow citizens as the "low names & lower natures [that] make up [the] motley race of this Bastard republic" (223)? The problem with such an irresistible character is that her chronicler runs the risk of rendering her as just that--a character. It would be easy to fall into the story of well-born Baltimore native "Betsy" Patterson, who is swept off her feet by Napoleon's brother Jerome (the future king of Westphalia), marrying him only a few months later, on Christmas Eve 1803. The whirlwind courtship, the dazzling marriage, Jerome's eventual abandonment of

Journal

Early American LiteratureUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Mar 9, 2014

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