Monday, February 3, 2014

Carol Berkin's "Wondrous Beauty"

Carol Berkin, Presidential Professor of History, Emerita at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is the author of A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, First Generations, and Jonathan Sewall.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte:
Ah…who has not fantasized about casting the movie version of a book? I have spent many an hour with close friends, sipping Malbec and arguing good-naturedly over who should be cast if some smart producer decides to put Wondrous Beauty on the wide screen. Who should play Betsy Bonaparte, her lily-livered husband Jerome Bonaparte, her oppressive father, her many hapless and scorned suitors, her son and grandsons—and, of course, Napoleon?

For the young Betsy—Jennifer Lawrence? No, somehow not right. Keira Knightley? A good choice, and she should be comfortable in period clothing after all those historical dramas. Natalie Portman—another good choice; she has Betsy’s delicate beauty. Finally, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who I think is underrated as an actress. Whoever takes the challenge, she will have to be able to make a believable transition from naïve young American romantic to sophisticated, fiercely independent, witty and sarcastic expatriot to bitter and isolated old woman.

And for Jerome—egotistical, profligate, but a man who knows how to charm women? Well, what American woman wouldn’t want Ryan Gosling in any movie she can be on-the-set for? Who cares if Jerome was short and dark and Gosling is blond? That’s why the gods invented hair coloring…. On the other hand, Gosling’s fellow Mouseketeer, Justin Timberlake might be able to pull off Jerome’s swarminess. I’d like to see Liev Schreiber as her father—he has the intensity William needs, but my friends prefer Kevin Spacey. For her Russian lover, Viggo Mortensen would be perfect.

And for Napoleon—I am stumped.
Read more about Wondrous Beauty at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue