Betsy and Jerome had one child, a son, whom Betsy named Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte. Among his mother’s family, however, he was known as Bo.
I haven’t said much about him before because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. However, I ran across this letter the other day when I was checking something else, and I found it amusing. As it doesn’t relate to any of the events I cover in the novel, I decided to share it here. Betsy wrote it from Europe to her father and describes events that took place when her son was merely sixteen:
Bo was very much attended to by all hands in Europe, and admired by every one. Some ladies in Rome ran after him so much that I feared his being spoiled, although he seemed quite unconscious of it, supposing probably that women old enough to be his grandmother could not be foolish enough to fall in love with him. It is certain that his beauty attracted great attention; a German princess told me that she had followed him once in Geneva, at a ball, from room to room, to look at him, and that he was the handsomest creature she ever saw. He certainly is the handsomest boy I ever saw of his age, and in all respects the finest creature possible. His modesty and good sense alone prevent his being spoiled, for I assure you he received attentions sufficient to have turned much older heads.
By most accounts, Betsy was a vain woman, so I think there may be a bit of mother’s exaggerated pride here. But it still tickles me to think of middle-aged princesses trailing after her son because he was so “beautiful.”