Title: America’s First Daughter
Author: Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Publication: March 1st 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
This review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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, Martha “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 in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. And it is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that she learns of her father’s liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.
Patsy too has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé, William Short, a staunch abolitionist intent on a career in Europe. Heartbroken at having to decide between being William’s wife or a devoted daughter, she returns to Virginia with her father and marries a man of his choosing, raising eleven children of her own.
Yet as family secrets come to light during her father’s presidency, Patsy must again decide how much she will sacrifice to protect his reputation, in the process defining not just Jefferson’s political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.
I live in Belgium so I’ve never been really very invested in the part of American history where this book takes place or knew anything about it, but America’s First Daughter has totally changed all that. It was the single most brilliant and outstanding historical fiction book that I have ever read. Bravo!
I must admit that I was a bit intimidated by the size of this book at first—It’s almost 600 pages. And the start was a bit slow for me but once I got more into the story I barely could stop reading. It was so damn good and compelling! The story was a well-written and researched. It a historical fiction as well as a tragic love story and gave an outstanding example of Patsy, who truly was intriguing to read about.
America’s First Daughter follows (obviously) Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, as the synopis says, starting at age nine. It takes place in America, when Patsy and her father went to France and then back to America. I really loved reading all about Patsy when she was growing up, especially her time in France was fascinating to me, but really, I liked reading about her whole love in general because her life was so interesting to me.
I also loved the side characters— from the intriguing William Short (I loved his and Patsy’s swift but ardent romance) to Patsy’s sister Polly, who’s death gave me tears in my eyes, to her father, Thomas Jefferson himself and Tom, Patsy’s husband she marries when she’s 17. I could go on and on. All characters were so fleshed out and detailed.
I also liked how this book gave a great view of domestic life of the time and age this book is set in. And can I just mention how strong I thought Patsy was. She went through a great deal in her life but always was supportive of her father, even when he maybe didn’t even deserve it. It really impressed me and that’s some extraordinary writing on the authors’ part. I can only compliment them for that! Bravo, ladies!
STEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. She’s also fascinated by the founding of the American Republic and its roots in ancient Rome. It’s her mission to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today.
Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction 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 as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America’s First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.