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.
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This review was difficult to write as I knew it would be a long one, and one that’s been shortened even from the original lol 😛
America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie was, although at many times, full of hypocrisy and questionable decision making by the characters within, there were also some likeable facets to the novel. Perplexing at times, given today’s views as opposed to what was the norm of centuries ago. A story that was captivating and also stunningly well written.
While Patsy’s character had many happy moments, her devastations were, more often than not, one after the other and left this reader thinking if Patsy would ever get a moment when something would work in her favour. 🙁 Her character was strong, and at times just as hypocritical as her father. I did shed a tear for Patsy’s character though. She by far had the most challenges to contend with. Patsy’s character I found the most happiest early on in the read at the convent or in France generally, but the devastations that arose after her return to Virginia were completely mind bending.
Sally’s character too I felt was quite left unaccounted for as she never really got her true freedom.
The two biggest stand out, likeable characters for this reader, who incidentally were secondary characters in the story, were William Short and Lafayette.
So many references within the story I took offence to – but that’s a perspective of today’s time frame, where society has progressed so much more than in the 1700’s.
This book thwarted me with the changing actions and portrayed emotions at every turn I actually had to take a step back from the book, I felt that churned up for and over the characters while reading it.
I really enjoyed reading the story, even through my many emotional feelings throughout the book. The writing style, character portrayal, calamities, challenges etc were written flawlessly by the authors throughout the novel. Put it this way, it left me talking about the book way into the night, and still today and am so glad of some of the progress society has made for the many folk of today.
The story and characters engrossed me from start to finish – even if I didn’t like what some chapters held for its characters or what the characters were necessarily doing, but the overall story depicted was stunningly written, especially for it to grab this reader and cause the emotional, turbulent twist of emotions that often had me in queasy tied up knots. (Lol) ?
Review copy kindly received from the Publisher
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