Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview with Ruth Hull Chatlien: THE AMBITIOUS MADAME BONAPARTE

Ambitious Madame Bonaparte banner 
Ambitious Madame Bonap

Ruth Hull Chatlien

Please welcome, Ruth Hull Chatlien!

1- Please tell us a bit about your research and what prompted you to write about Betsy?

My husband and I were fans of the Horatio Hornblower television series in the late 1990s. Then in the 2000s, we discovered an additional four episodes that had been produced much later. The last of those featured Jerome and Betsy Bonaparte. I had never before heard that Napoleon’s brother married an American. When I looked up the facts on the Internet, I discovered that Betsy’s real life was far more interesting than the snippet shown (and distorted) in the television show. I researched the novel by reading several biographies as well as books about Napoleon, Dolley Madison, the War of 1812, Baltimore architecture, period clothing,and an early excursion to Niagara Falls. I also took a research trip to Baltimore to visit historic homes, Fort McHenry, and the Maryland Historical Society.

2- Could you please share one fascinating or juicy thing about Betsy that is not necessarily in the book, but that us readers would love to know?

Betsy had a Parisian porcelain bourdaloue, a portable chamber pot, that she carried with her on long carriage rides. After Betsy’s death, her grandson’s wife donated it to the Maryland Historical Society, and the curators there didn’t know what it was. Assuming it was a large sauce boat, they put it on display as part of a table setting in a period dining room—until a porcelain expert explained its real purpose.

3- What major difference between Jerome and Napoleon would you say most struck you and why?

Jerome greatly admired Napoleon and wanted to be just like him, but as the spoiled baby of the family, he never acquired the discipline or work ethic that was necessary to become a great military leader or ruler. So Jerome took the easy way out and settled for the trappings of unearned glory. In fairness to Jerome, there’s one other difference I should note. He was a kinder man than his brother.

4- Please share with us any future projects you may be working on- Can we expect more on the Bonaparte family perhaps?

I haven’t ruled out writing another book about the Bonaparte family, but I’m not going to do so right away. I want to avoid being too closely tied to any one period or country. Instead, I see my “brand” as writing about strong women caught up in times of conflict. I’m currently researching another true story, this one about an American woman who was taken captive during one of the most brutal Indian wars in U.S. history. After that, I expect to return to a topic that is connected to France.

Author Ruth Hull Chatlien

on Tour
March 3-12, 2014

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

[historical fiction]
 Release Date: December 2, 2013
Publisher: Amika Press, Chicago
ISBN: 978-1937484163
484 pages
Available from 
Amika Press
, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.


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.[provided by the author]
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.


Monday, March 3
Review at Words And Peace
Tuesday, March 4
Review at The Reading Life
Thursday, March 6
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at I Am, Indeed
Friday, March 7
Review + Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Sunday, March 9
Review + Giveaway at Just Reviews.
With extra information here.
Monday, March 10
Review at Jorie Loves A Story
Tuesday, March 11
Review at Making My Mark
Interview at Enchanted by Josephine
Wednesday, March 12
Review at Chocolate & Croissants


Mystica said...

Thanks for an interesting interview and also for all the links.

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for posting this fascinating interview

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Thanks for the interview.

Becky G said...

This was a great interview, what an interesting story. I didn't know that Napolean had a SIL so that's kind of neat. I have been reading a historical romance by Roberta Grimes, in fact a whole series called Letters From Love, it's been a great read, I recommend it. is her site, it is a unique series, been fantastic.