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Over the past 130 years, Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson Bonaparte has inspired countless books, movies, articles, and fictionalized accounts. None captures the full measure of her fascinating life. The product of thirty years of study, Helen Jean Burn's life of Betsy Bonaparte surpasses its predecessors in scope, depth, and soul.
Born in Baltimore to a wealthy family in 1785, Elizabeth Patterson shook local and Parisian society when she wed Jerome Bonaparte, brother of the Emperor Napoleon. Insisting on a better future for his brother, the emperor annulled the marriage, but not before it produced a son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte. Betsy's failed quest to win royal status for her son and grandsons consumed the remainder of her seventy-four years, decades that transformed her from the glamorous "belle of Baltimore" into a shrewd and successful businesswoman determined to protect her family.