Can’t wait for the next season of “The Real Housewives” to hurry up and premiere? Cool your (high) heels with an even more real – though equally scandalous – socialite’s life story…
Two centuries back, Baltimorean Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson Bonaparte — the same family after which Patterson Park is named — became one of the first red-hot celebs in America, during a crucial moment in the nation’s early history – after all, she’d wed Napoleon’s brother Jerome, given birth to his child, then seen the marriage annulled by the emperor himself. (Way more interesting than Kim Richards’s rocky romance with Ken.)
In Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic, historian Charlene M. Boyer Lewis presents this beautiful power player’s shifting identities – as celebrity, aristocrat, independent woman, and mother – and examines her social influence at the center of the changing transatlantic world. Her dramatic story points up the fragility of the American experiment in its infancy and the active role of women in debates over society and culture in the early republic.
Hear Lewis read and discuss the provocative new biography on Thursday evening at 6:30, at the Ivy Bookshop – 6080 Falls Road. Feel free to ask her about “Madame Bonaparte’s” makeup and footwear preferences, if you’re so inclined.