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America's First Daughter: A Novel

America's First Daughter: A Novel


America's First Daughter: A Novel

ratings:
4.5/5 (150 ratings)
Length:
23 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 1, 2016
ISBN:
9780062463548
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

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.

Publisher:
Released:
Mar 1, 2016
ISBN:
9780062463548
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Stephanie Dray is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer and a teacher. Now she lives near the nation’s capital with her husband, cats, and history books.



Reviews

What people think about America's First Daughter

4.7
150 ratings / 46 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    This engaging account of the life of Martha Patsy Jefferson - Thomas Jefferson's daughter - drew me into the world of her family's life and the early history of the United States. Patsy - as she is known to her family - spends her life devoted to her father. But while he has much affection for his family, his remarkable intellect and leadership skills mean that he is called upon to be a "public servant" again and again. Still, Patsy is often the only one privy to his private moments - moments when grief over the death of his wife almost kills him and moments when he expresses displeasure at how those close to him behave. Over the course of the years Patsy matures and becomes a sought after beauty in Paris - and comes into conflict with her father as to who she should marry. Later her choice settled and and her future course set, she still has much to do with managing her father's household and affairs, and in trying to minimize the effects of poor decisions by relatives and close friends which threaten to drag them down into scandal, poverty or despair. And during it all she is constantly aware of the presence of Sally Hemings - the slave who she has long known is also her half sister. I was enthralled by some of the historical details about the family - some of which were quite shocking. Still in places it was a bit too detailed and I wanted to rush through to a more interesting part. However I would definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys learning about history as they read a well researched fictionalized account of historical figures.
  • (5/5)
    America’s First Daughter takes up the life of Thomas Jefferson’s oldest child Martha, who was always referred to as Patsy. When Patsy was ten years old her mother died, having famously requested that Thomas Jefferson would not remarry. Technically, he didn’t.When Patsy was twelve she accompanied her father to Paris and remained with him while he was Minister to France. She attended a convent school until she expressed an interest in converting to Catholicism at which point Jefferson removed Patsy and her sister from the school.It appears that Patsy’s first love was William Short, her father’s 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 father’s feet, still in her father’s shadow.
  • (5/5)
    Politics haven't changed a bit. If you think they're bad now, read this book. Fake news isn't a new thing, Partisan politics so violent it almost prevented Jefferson from attending his good friend George Washington's funeral; Muslims entertained at the white house to negotiate peace with Barbary pirates, so much history here to soak up in its 600+ pages. But at heart the story of a daughter from childhood to old age, and despite her strength and smarts, diplomacy, and courage, she was still ruled and dictated to by men and a declaration of Independence cowritten by her own beloved father that did not apply to her, nor blacks, nor indians. A compelling and inspiring novel.
  • (4/5)
    This book was really well done. I cared about Patsy from the very beginning, so even though I didn't agree with all her decisions, I deeply felt her highs and lows.The other characters were well written too. In lesser hands, Tom Randolph could have turned into a caricature of evil, but here he was fleshed out and made far more complicated.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.
  • (5/5)
    When the hottest thing is entertainment is Broadway's hit musical Hamilton, the timing is good for a novel about President Thomas Jefferson's daughter Pasty. Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie combined to give us a fascinating look at not only Patsy Jefferson, but also at a fascinating time in our history in America's First Daughter.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.
  • (5/5)
    Just a remarkable book. I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to pick it up again. The life of Martha (Patsy) Jefferson. Told in Stephanie Dray's words but from Martha's letters, Thomas Jefferson's letters and numerous other historical artifacts to paint a story around one of America's founding fathers and his daughter.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!