America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Behind every successful man is a good woman. Most often we take that quote to mean a wife, but in this lengthy tribute to one of the great icons of American history we learn about the two women who each helped Thomas Jefferson to achieve great success, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. The book is told from Patsy's point of view. From their narrow escape of the British during the American Revolution to their first hand accounts of the rebellions and ultimate revolution in France, Patsy and her famous father are witness to some of the most iconic moments in history. The author is masterful at conveying the ambiguity of feelings surrounding slavery and its ties to the land of Virginia farmers. At 624 pages, it is a lengthy read, but the authentic language and vivid descriptions immerse the reader into the lives of Jefferson and his family. Patsy's relationship with her father was a lifelong struggle between her admiration and devotion to him and her own desires for independence. Patsy also struggles to accept her father's relationship with Sally Hemmings. Patsy serves in several roles for her father, both at home and his political life. In addition to Jefferson the story includes other notable figures like James Madison and his irrepressible wife Dolly, and the legendary french hero, Lafayette, and the author brings these historical figures to life with honesty and at times humor, to help the reader develop a new understanding of the country's earliest leaders. I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.
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