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The youngest brother of the Emperor, the handsome, popular Jerome Bonaparte, came to Baltimore in 1803 and while there fell in love and married one of the local belles, a Miss Elizabeth Patterson. This union, blissful for the parties concerned, proved unacceptable to Napoleon Bonaparte, and he had it annulled and ordered his brother home. Jerome, forbidden ever to see Betsy again, and denied even the sight of their son, remarried and resigned himself to the role of King of Westphalia. Upon his death, his first wife and her now grown child, sued for their share of Jerome's estate -- and it is this prolonged, politically foredoomed-to-failure legal battle that provides the main topic of a curiously pleasant historical recreation....It is odd that with a two months' span, two books on this little known incident should appear. The earlier one was written for young people, by Alice Curtis Desmond- Bewitching Betsy Bonaparte (Dodd, Mead- see report on p. 816) and is a very lively human story of Betsy and the son, who rejected her plans and chose his role as a native-born American. The two books could well be linked in joint sale, for there is nothing ""juvenile"" in the approach and handling of the Desmond book, while A Family Lawsuit provides an extension of interest in the intricacies of the legal battle.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1958
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy