Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML: THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolphâ??a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy. From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson's oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother's death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father's troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in loveâ??with her father's protĂ©gĂ© William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William's wife and still be a devoted daughter. Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he fou
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Although the epilog does point out how the author connected the dotted lines from letters and historical documents to write this in the voice of Martha, you do get a sense Ms Dray is not too far off in her interpretation of the woman and the Jeffersons.
If you're interested in American History, women's movements, how women were treated and accepted their fates in the 1800s, etc. Or if you just want to throw all the history aside for just a good book about a woman living in a man's world, then do pick this book up.
One of the best reads of the year, any year. Well done Ms Dray!
For historical fiction fans and even those that aren't this is one not to be missed. I was sorry when I read the last page. I could have gone on forever.
Well written, this book
I enjoy historical fiction and learning about other times and places. I do not enjoy dry facts and dates which is why I did not enjoy history class in high school. Too bad we couldn't learn
If history is your thing I think you will really enjoy America's First Daughter.
This book does not gloss over Jefferson's flaws as Patsy tries to preserve his reputation in the new county. His choices and decisions are often hard on his family, which takes second place to his devotion to his country.
This is a vivid account of a turbulent time in U.S. history as lived by some very real and flawed human beings. Tragedy brings out the best and the worst in a revered by troubled family.
This novel covers nearly the entirety of Patsy's life, from her early girlhood in Virginia and Boston, to her years in Paris with her father, where she was educated at a convent school, and the rest of her life as a wife and mother in Virginia. I found myself longing along with Patsy to be with her first love. I hurt with Patsy when misfortune befell her family. I was angry with Patsy when she was mistreated by her husband.
I was totally and completely invested in this novel, and found myself reading it every chance I got. It was extremely well-researched and written. If you are a fan of historical fiction, you MUST read this book. Highly recommended!
Using Thomas Jefferson's letters, the authors have created and engaging and very accurate portrayal of Thomas and Patsy Jefferson. I love learning about history through a woman's eyes, and Patsy's character does wonders for learning more about Patsy herself, Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemmings and even Abigail Adams. I was very intrigued about Thomas Jefferson's views of his own slaves, his relationship with Sally Hemmings and his relationship with his children. Patsy herself is a tremendous character which I loved to see grow, develop her own opinions and eventually fulfill the obligations as First Lady to her father. This is a longer book at almost 600 pages, so it is quite an epic read, but well worth it for any historical fiction lover.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
The story opens during the American Revolution, with the Jefferson family on the run and in hiding. Tragedy strikes repeatedly, and Jefferson falls into a depression after the loss of his wife. Being the eldest child, a young Patsy becomes the "woman of the house" at 10 years of age after her mother's death, and it is her job to look after her father and sisters. She takes her duty to her father very seriously, and won't leave his side, eventually accompanying him to France.
Patsy is a strong-willed and intelligent young girl who grows to be a well traveled and worldly young woman. She acquires over her youth the social grace to handle herself in politically-charged gatherings, and even smooth things over when her father flubs something.
Accompanying them to France is Jeffersonâs apprentice William Short. He essentially idolizes Jefferson and would do almost anything for him. He is also quite fond of Patsy. They share the same beliefs about slavery and the âwrongnessâ of it.
Also accompanying the family to France is Sally Hemings, the beautiful slave that is rumored to be the half-sister of Jeffersonâs wife. She is also rather intelligent, even regal, and has a will of her own that she will enforce when she feels it necessary.
I think we've all heard the stories about Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. This novel takes the perspective that Hemings and Jefferson may have been in love, or at least had some sort of connection. The story portrays an apparent tenderness and affection between the two, and a long-term relationship resulting in numerous supposed children together.
After the first 100 pages, the book held me every moment. I was bored in the beginning by Jefferson and his misery after his wife's death, but once he came out of it and the story picked up, it held my attention and had me craving to know what would happen next.
Then I found myself wanting to finish the story, so I could then go on to read up on Jefferson, his daughter and the other characters, to see how much of this story seemed to be true.
As Patsy matured and found romantic interests, I found myself concerned that the story may degrade into some tale of flowery romance, but the story in fact maintained its integrity.
My final word: The story was slow to start and grab me, but in the end I really, really liked the tale told about Patsy and her life as the daughter of Thomas Jefferson. The authors really brought the characters to life, and made them highly sympathetic. Jefferson is actually a secondary character in this story. It is really all about Patsy-- her strength, her determination, her loyalty and devotion, commitment and constant love. It's an extraordinary tale, with an extraordinary woman and cast of secondary characters, not the least of whom is Thomas Jefferson himself. Jefferson is known for having said "I cannot live without books", and you, my friends, should not live without this one! Get thee to a book store posthaste!
On Patsy's mother's deathbed, she told young Patsy that it would be Patsy's job to look after her father Thomas and that is what Patsy spent her life doing. She accompanied her father to his post as ambassador to France, served as his hostess when he became President and became mistress of his famous estate in Monticello, Virginia.
Patsy also cared for her younger daughter Polly, and then married and became mother to eleven children. The man she married, Thomas Randolph, was left penniless due to a family fight, and he descended into anger and alcoholism which left Patsy to care for her family on her own.
Her first love was William Short, a man her father considered his adopted son. Patsy and William's path to a happy future was a rocky one because Thomas Jefferson believed that Short would not be able to provide adequately for his daughter, and would not give his blessing. How different her life would have been if only he did!
Short believed that slavery was an abomination, and because Jefferson's home state of Virginia depended on slave labor, this was a problem. Patsy also believed that holding people captive was wrong, and when she discovered that her father was carrying on with Sally Hemings, a household slave and his wife's half-sister, she was bereft and conflicted.
I was particularly impressed with how the authors dealt with the complications of slavery in this novel. Jefferson famously wrote that "all men are created equal" while he himself owned slaves and depended on them to operate his beloved Monticello. He had several children with Sally Hemings, children who were slaves on his plantation.
There are many wrenching scenes in this novel, but none are more disturbing than the one of Patsy attending an auction of her family's worldly goods, including many of the slaves. She is heartbroken that families will be broken apart and sold South, and yet she feels there is nothing she can do to stop it.
We also see in this novel what little say women had in their own lives. There are scenes of domestic violence where women are beaten and abused by their husbands and no one, not even a former President of the United States, is allowed to intervene. Married women are at the mercy of their husbands whims and decisions no matter how intelligent or wealthy they may be.
I read America's First Daughter on a plane and was so totally lost in this world I was shocked at how quickly the time flew. Dray and Kamoie clearly did a great deal of research and used letters recently released by the Jefferson estate as a jumping off point. There is a terrific conversation with the authors at the end of the book that should not be missed.
I highly recommend America's First Daughter, especially for people who like to read about historical figures. Patsy Jefferson comes alive in this wonderful book, and I am now going to read the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed to find out the real story of Sally Hemings and her children.
The two authors blended so nicely together to write this book. It was seamless. I could not tell where one left off and the next picked up. Plus, this book did not feel like you were reading from an old, stuffy history book. I was engaged from the beginning with all of the voices in this book.
The enigma of President Jeffersonâs life has always interested me. As a man who wrote the Declaration of Independence in which âall men are created equal,â he was known to possess slaves throughout his lifetime. In addition, Jefferson maintained a life-long relationship with one of his mulatto slaves, Sally Hemmings with whom he fathered several offspring. His relationship with Sally was never formally acknowledged while he was alive, but recent DNA tests have indicated that Jefferson was indeed the father to her children. I felt that, while the story is presented in fictional format, the authors present an accurate and fair portrayal of the conflicts to which Jefferson faced between his personal and public life. Although he may have been urged by individuals to support the emancipation of slaves, he could never fully allow himself to risk his political position to do so. Although Jefferson believed in emancipation, he felt that it was a process to be achieved in a future generation.
Throughout Jeffersonâs life, his daughter Patsy served as his staunchest supporter as she fulfilled the role of First Lady to the President. The story truly captures Patsyâs dedication to her father, as well as her resilience in a tumultuous life as a matriarch to her family through scandals, financial ruin, and tragedy.
The authors of this novel portray this brilliant story with well-written and descriptive prose. Although the novel exceeds six hundred pages in length, I am mesmerized by Patsyâs calculating wit and her thought processes in establishing her role in a chauvinistic and bigoted society. Being the consummate romantic, I am also intrigued with her enduring relationship with William Short, an abolitionist and friend to Thomas Jefferson. For me, this novel successfully traverses the layers of dichotomy between slavery and emancipation, as well as the expectations of a woman in colonial times.
My only criticism was that there was a bit of a chick lit feel to much of the story, not generally my favorite genre. If I were editing, I would remove much of the William Short speculation, as the story is remarkable enough without it, and would be more likely to appeal to male readers.
Still, I would heartily recommend this novel to those who like women's historical fiction, and will look forward to seeing what this dynamic duo authors next. Readers who enjoy this novel will probably also enjoy the works of Barbara Chase-Riboud, Sally Hemings and America's First Daughter.
Review Copy Gratis Library Thing
When Patsy was twelve she
It appears that Patsyâs first love was William Short, her fatherâs private secretary. But by then Patsy had committed herself to her father. She was seventeen when the family returned to Virginia and married her third cousin Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr.
Patsy gave birth to thirteen children. She lived with her family at various properties including Monticello. She served as hostess when her father became president. She eventually left her abusive husband. When she died her grave was at her fatherâs feet, still in her fatherâs shadow.
Stephanie Dray writes Historical fiction, most recently with Laura Kamoie, but she's also well known as an Historical romance author under the name of Stephanie Draven. Just to confuse matters even more, Laura Kamoie also has an alias as a Romance author, as Laura Kaye.
Stephanie and Laura between them had 17,000 letters written to and from Thomas Jefferson, on which to base their novel, no wonder it took five years to write.
Jefferson lived a double life, advocating freedom for all, while running a farm worked by slaves. He argued that it would be impossible to maintain the farm without slave workers. Meanwhile, on her deathbed, he promised to love none other than his beloved wife, yet formed a life-long liaison with a slave girl in his employ, fathering several children through her.
This book is written from the point of view of his daughter, Martha, known as Patsy. She relinquished many of her personal freedoms in order to stay at her father's side; travelling to Paris with him at a young age and later playing the role of first woman in Washington. She then married Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. and bore twelve children.
Having spent such a long time on this book I was disappointed in the discussion questions provided by the publisher; they tended to run along a similar theme and were somewhat uninspiring. I had to resort to the passages that I had highlighted while reading to keep the discussion motivated.
Although the book was quite hard going, I learned a lot from it and don't regret the time spent.
Although telling the story from Martha "Patsy" Jefferson's point of view, at its core, this novel is an examination of the man and his times. Thoroughly researched and richly detailed, Dray and Komoie bring a precarious time in our country's history to life. It's clear that Martha Jefferson profoundly affected her father's life, served her country as "First Daughter," and protected Jefferson in death, carefully editing his papers and letters to build the myth we are most familiar with. Jefferson's lifelong affair with Sally Hemmings (half-sister to his dead wife) is handled with delicacy and is thoroughly rooted in the mores of the "Virginia Planter" society.
I most appreciated the detailed and proscribed world of women--both free and slave. Martha Jefferson is subject to her father's wishes for marriage and her husband's management of their lives and livelihood. Constantly pregnant, she makes decisions and finds agency within a narrow range of action. Like nearly all women of her time, she can't live according to her own wishes until both her father and husband are dead. But Martha's decisions and actions are rooted in love for both her father and husband. She doesn't question her (or other women's) lot in life. She accepts her role, makes the most of it, and battles life's vagaries with intelligence, grit, and compassion. This is a complicated story told well. Highly recommended.
Note: I received a copy from the publisher through an Early Reader program. That did not affect my review.
The other characters were well written too. In lesser hands, Tom Randolph could have turned into a caricature of evil, but here he was
It did annoy me, though, that near the end of the book Martha (Patsy) complained that none of the slaves were brave enough to confront Bankhead. This struck me as an unfair and ungrateful statement, especially given Burwell's (one of the slaves) willingness to protect her from Bankhead at an earlier point in the novel.
Overall I found this book engrossing, I appreciated the authors' notes at the end, and I look forward to their next book.