America's First Daughter: A Novel by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie narrated by, Cassandra Campbell
Available in house and on Library2Go in Ebook and Audiobook
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
This is a review of the Audiobook
I learned so much about this family and the time period from this book, I enjoyed the excerpts from actual letters it added such an authenticity to this fiction novel. As to the time period first and foremost there are slaves, and secondly the women are such second hand citizens, even though Thomas Jefferson did treat his daughters better than some. The abuse towards women was horrifying, that it was just commonplace made it worse to me. You could be hanged for stealing a horse but beating up your wife or mother in law or daughter was fine.
Of course we all know about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings relationship and I do feel like that’s what it was, I think Sally truly helped the Jefferson out of his deepest despair and I believe he was grateful for that. It did make me mad that he didn’t free her and their children upon his death. I think that is the least he could have done for all she went through.
I really like Martha’s husband Tom at first but boy oh boy as this book went on he became just like his own father. This woman had 11 children in an age where a lot of women died in childbirth including her own mother and her sister. But the alternative to not doing your wifely duties was to have your husband bed a slave so I guess if you wanted to keep your husband you just kept popping out babies.
The hardships and losses she went through were tough but they made her a very tough woman and I was very impressed with her.
I was also fascinated with the fact that the women were much more “political” than their husbands they were the ones that got the right people to the right dinners and parties and advanced their men’s careers, but of course got no credit for it
Cassandra's narration was fabulous will be surprised if this doesn't get an earphones award and possibly a Audie nomination next year so very well done! I enjoyed that Patsy’s (Martha) voice aged with her and became stronger as she became sure of herself. So well done! This book was 23 hours and I was never bored or distracted and was sad when it ended.
We read this for book club and there were some that felt the Paris section in the beginning was a little romancey but don’t let that put you of, she’s a young girl at the start and this section sets up events later in the book and also shows the lengths she will go for her father.
I see these two authors are writing another book together and I look forward to reading it! I highly recommend this book and even higher recommend it on audio!
4 ½ Stars
Interview/podcast with the authors
Thomas Jefferson’s letters here
A lot of good info on the family and Monticello