America's First Daughter: A Novel
By Stephanie Dray
Authors: Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
At her young mother’s deathbed, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson promises to look after her beloved father, Thomas. The oldest of Jefferson’s children, Patsy shoulders a burden much too heavy for the child she is, but she does so willingly. When Jefferson accepts an assignment that will take him from the family estate at Monticello to Paris, Patsy travels along with him, and is soon ensconced in a French convent to attend school. Jefferson is immersed in diplomatic affairs, and Patsy cherishes any opportunity to spend time with the brilliant, mercurial author of The Declaration of Independence. She loves her time in the peaceful convent, however, even to the point of considering taking vows and becoming a nun, an idea that appalls her father.
The family, such as it is, returns to Virginia after an absence of over five years. Patsy has grown into a mature young woman, thinking of her own future and considering marriage. Jefferson has plans for his daughter to marry as well, but to the man of his choosing, not hers. What eventually follows is a marriage that at turn faces scandal, financial problems and more – and produces eleven children. Patsy remains her father’s staunchest supporter, his confidant, his loving daughter till he draws his last breath. Her own married life is miserable, but she remains married till she’s widowed, and then another phase of her life begins, bringing her once more to the White House.
America’s First Daughter is a fascinating look into the life of the child of one of America’s most beloved and important Founding Fathers. Patsy Jefferson was an intelligent, complex and loving woman who stood by her father’s side through thick and thin, good and bad, supporting him and loving the man who was as flawed as he was brilliant. It’s hard to imagine the fortitude Patsy had to endure all she did, but through letters, historical events and impeccable research, authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie have brought Patsy to life for readers to meet for themselves. The story is absorbing, rich with historical detail and incredibly compelling reading. America’s First Daughter is truly a must read for 2016.
Joyce Greenfield, ReaderToReader.com