A Woman of Two Worlds
Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte
Maryland Historical Society 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network January 21, 2017 Mark Klobas
Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was a celebrity in 19th century America thanks in no small measure to her brief marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte’s youngest brother Jerome. In A Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (Maryland Historical Society, 2016), Alexandra Deutsch draws upon the documents and artifacts Elizabeth’s family donated to describe her life. The daughter of a wealthy American merchant, her charm and beauty captivated Jerome, who married her in 1803 only to leave her and her unborn two years later at the emperors insistence. Though the Bonapartes sought to distance themselves from Elizabeth, she spent the next several decades doggedly fighting to win acceptance of her son and his children as members of the Bonaparte line, all while building a fortune of her own. Deutsch details these efforts by using Elizabeth’s possessions to describe the various ways in which she associated herself with the Bonaparte family, an effort that was every bit as important to her as the ongoing legal struggle to confirm her son’s legitimacy.