I received a free copy for my honest review
About the Book:
• Paperback: 624 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 1, 2016)
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 Randolph—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 love—with her father’s protégé 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 founded.
About the Authors:
Stephanie Dray is a bestselling and award-nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her work has been translated into six different languages, was nominated for RWA’s RITA Award, and won NJRW’s Golden Leaf. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.
Laura Kamoie has published two nonfiction books on early America and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books.
I have mentioned several times about my appalling lack of of knowledge of US history. I have a fascination for European history but the history here – meh. As I have gotten older I have discovered an interest for this country’s history that I didn’t have when I was younger. I’ve worked my way through the Civil War era, WWI and WWII. It was inevitable that I’d make my way to the Founders.
America’s First Daughter is about Patsy Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter. The book is heavily researched and makes use of the more than 20,000 letters written by our second President. Yes, you read that correctly – the man left one heck of a written record. It opens at the tail end of the Revolutionary War as the Redcoats are marching towards Monticello and the family needs to flee to safety. Of course we all know how the war works out and I’m not spoiling the plot by telling you that Britain is soon defeated and the nascent United States begins life with George Washington as its first president.
Thomas Jefferson is soon sent to France. Patsy had promised her mother before she died that she would always care for her father. She kept this promise and it may not have proven beneficial to her as an individual but it did leave Jefferson with someone to follow along and keep him in order. The book also includes the story of Sally Hemmings who might just have been Mrs. Jefferson’s half sister. If nothing else it seems she was a remarkably beautiful woman. She and Patsy had a civil relationship.
This is a lengthy book but it reads quickly and easily. It was detailed thanks to all of those letters which were used to excellent advantage but it lacked a certain development of atmosphere for lack of a better description. The little things that make a book sing such as the sentences detailing the clothing, the food, the smells, etc. I was never bored reading this book as there was so much going on historically and so much to learn. I was also never totally immersed into the world of Patsy Jefferson – I was always on the outside looking in. I was happy to be there though as it’s a bit of the country’s history about which I knew nothing and now our second president is less a name in a history book and more a real person.