Patriot Hearts: A Novel of the Founding Mothers
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Patriot Hearts: A Novel of the Founding Mothers

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3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  347 ratings  ·  79 reviews
When Martha Dandridge Custis marries her second husband, George, she never suspects that the soft-spoken Virginia planter is destined to command the founding of a nation—or that she is to be “Lady Washington,” the woman at the first President’s side. Only a select inner circle of women will know the cost of sharing a beloved man with history . . . and each will draw streng...more
Hardcover, 410 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2007)
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Booknblues
Patriot Hearts by Barbara Hambly about Dolley Madison, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Sally Hemings covers their lives from the 1770’s through 1814. The story jumps from one person to another, one time to another that it nearly gave me heart palpitations. Mind you, I like a book told during more than one time and from more than one perspective, however it has to be done cleanly and clearly so the reader can follow it or exquisitely as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Hambly isn’t Marquez.

Hambly...more
Amanda
This novel was obviously extremely well-researched, however, I believe this actually got in the way of the story. Hambly tries to cram to much erroneous information into the book and this, I believe, takes the attention and focus away from the true feelings and hardships of the Founding Mothers. She had lofty goals to tell the story of four very different woman and in the making of it, she loses the essence of each one. The book also switches perspective and time much too often and the reader is...more
Tamora Pierce
This is a wonderful portrayal of the women closest to our first four presidents: how they met, how they dealt with their men's rise to power in the fledgling United States, and how they dealt with the power struggles of the new country up to the War of 1812. Hambly has a genius for showing the telling details of everyday life that create pictures of worlds, societies, and the complex ties of emotion, politics, and obligation that build cities, families, and nations.

She also very vividly shows h...more
Megan
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The characters are interesting and I could relate to them as mothers and wives. (How horrible to live during battles fought at your doorstep and yellow fever epidemics!) There are a lot of flashbacks (and flashforwards) but once I gave myself a quick review of US history (pre-revolution to just after the war of 1812...thanks Bill) it was easy enough to follow. I did refer often to the listing in the back of the book of who all the characters were...they all seeme...more
Ginger
I liked the parts of this book dealing with Dolly Madison, Martha Washington, and Abigail Adams, but I didn't like how the author made a steamy romance between Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson. I get that we don't know anything about their relationship, but I really liked that with all the other women the couples were allowed their privacy regarding their "relations", and I feel like it lessened the impact the book could have had by making a big romance for SH and TJ, rather than concentratin...more
Loni
This book has been so fascinating and interesting! It's not an easy or quick read, but very worthwhile. It's about the Founding Mothers and their history, lives and the influence they had on our country. I've loved learning about what their lives were like especially about what it was like to be a mother and wife in their age. I highly recommend it for any woman to read. Although it takes place many years ago, it's very relevant and applicable to our struggles today. I learned a ton and apprecia...more
Laverne Sheehan
I thought I would just love. this book since I love history and historical fiction. It took me much too long to read. I seemed to lose interest in some of the characters. There were too many other individuals that were brought into the picture. I found the reading slow going. It didn't seem to flow like other fiction. Perhaps it was the going back and forth among the characters and from present to the past.
Sara
Let's be honest: it was slow to start, and Dolley Madison's starting the story by reminiscing about objects that belonged to other first ladies seemed extremely gimmicky.
But then it got extremely interesting.
I felt like a true American patriot, crying my eyes out about the presidents on the bus. *grin-sigh*


EDIT: An important addition to this review.
http://laughingsquid.com/sexy-foundin...
Alli
Great idea for the book. Lame way to put it together. I found it confusing and difficult to follow. I loved the history (and the info on what was real vs. fake) at the end of the book... but otherwise, not my favorite!
Ceillie Simkiss
Was not interestingly written at all. Despite multiple efforts to read, I could not get through it. I am very much disappointed.
Marcia
This is a historical fiction of the lives of the first four presidents' wives. In general it was well written and very interesting, but there were a few drawbacks for me. The author jumps back and forth between different characters and time periods making it a bit hard to follow. This was made all the worse by the fact that all the characters have multiple names (a given name, a name the are actually called by, and some other cutesie nickname). I think it would have been better have just started...more
Maria
Hambly's novel intertwines the lives of Dolly Madison, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Sally Hemmings, a British spy and a host of other people in believable ways that are not at all obvious when you read a "history" book. I particularly liked the manner in which Hambly dealt with Sally Hemmings' story, with charity for both Sally and for Jefferson too. (I get tired of the way people discuss Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemmings. He was neither a saint nor a demon. He was a man, with hu...more
Jacqie
Again, I'll read whatever Barbara Hambly writes. This one did not get picked up by me for a bit. Honestly, I was a bit afraid of the sweep of the book- the first four first ladies, no less! However, I was fascinated by learning more about these women. We get Martha Washington, conflicted about the time she spent away from her children to be with her husband during the war. Abigail Adams is perhaps the least well fleshed-out character, but perhaps that's because Hambly is now writing a mystery se...more
Jeannie Lee
I abolutely loved this book! I came to feel like I was one of Dolly Madison's close friends. What an amazing woman! I cried and felt her horrible shock and pain when she held her dying husband in her arms in front of her 3 year old son. The book is primarily told from Dolly Madison, as she was preparing to flee the Presidential Mansion before the British captured Washington and burnt it to the ground. The author also told the story from several other women's lives, and she even included Sally He...more
Taylor
I'm having a historical fiction kick right now. Really. I love (have always loved) history and the many stories that may or may not exist behind the facade of the historical text book. This book raised a lot of the questions that fuel that passion for historical fiction.

Hambly takes the reader through the pages of a history text into an adventure with the 3 Founding Mothers (Dolley Madison, Abigail Adams, and Martha Washington) and Thomas Jefferson's mistress/slave Sally Hemmings (side note - s...more
Emily
Well, 2 stars might seem a little harsh. It wasn't a BAD book, I just didn't love it. A lot of the time I was reading it, I was thinking about abandoning it; let me tell you why. This is a historical fiction book about important women to the first few years of the USA; Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and Sally Hemings. I think the reason I wasn't getting into it very well from the beginning is that there are so many side characters (of course, all of the womens' families and th...more
Kathy
Enthralling story of the founding women of the country and how they dealt with the growing pains of a new nation . The unwaving support of their husbands and their ambitions was astonishing. The story entwines the lives of the four women their thoughts and sacrifices during the early stages of the republic. Lots of history and political intrigue. A good read.
Alexandria Brim
I absolutely adore this book. When I finish with books on my Kindle, I generally delete them. But this book never got deleted as I love to go back and reread different passages from time to time.

Hambly does a wonderful job weaving the four stories together. It's interesting to see where they intersect and how so, though Abigail Adams' story seems to do so less than Martha's, Sally's and Dolly's stories do. Hambly takes us through the country's crucial years from a different perspective.

I also...more
Marianne Shaker
What a wonderful historical novel from the perspective of the women behind the men during the tumultuous birth of the USA and the Revolutionary War. I was never a big American history fan, but this was a fascinating read with insight into the daily lives and hardships of families as history unfolded.
Tristi
I hate to say this, but I didn't finish this book. It was well written, but the chronology was driving me insane. We start out with Dolley Madison and skitter back and forth through her life, then we go to Martha Washington in the next chapter and skitter back and forth throughout her life. Abigail Adams and Sally Hemings are also portrayed, all women I wanted to learn more about, but I never knew if I was coming or going or what time frame I was in. I'm probably just overly grumpy right now and...more
Alison
Though all the founding mothers were not of the same political or religious belief, they were all remarkably full of faith in their God and love of their country. Each went about their service in a different way, but each of them sacrificed so much for our freedoms. How can you read a book like this and not feel gratitude and a desire to emulate them? I enjoyed how intertwined their worlds were despite living so far from each other. I loved that they were a support to one another and to their hu...more
Shelee Bush
This was a fictionalized account of 4 women in their real-time history spanning the revolutionary war and the days afterward. I love reading about strong women and these ladies lived in a time that required duty, sacrifice of personal happiness, and strict dedication to the cause of liberty and freedom. Though apparently this didn't mean freedom for all at the time, the founding fathers gave the constitution the foundation to right the wrongs of slavery and a devastating civil war years later se...more
Terry
My initial acquaintance with Barbara Hambly was through her excellent fantasy novels and her historical novels about New Orleans. I appreciated the research she did and the care she took in illuminating the early history of the United States through the experiences of the women who influenced the first four presidents. Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison were the most compellingly drawn characters, while of the presidents, Thomas Jefferson fared the worst. It took 100 pages of so before the broken...more
Jacki
Jul 22, 2008 Jacki rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All women

This book has been extremely fascinating and interesting! It's not what I would call an easy or quick read, but very worthwhile and informative. It's about the Founding Wives and their history, lives and the influence they had on our country during its infancy. I've enjoyed learning about what their lives were like especially about what it was like to be a mother and wife in their age. The struggles they went through and the things they had to endure are something I am glad I will (hopefully) ne...more
Elizabeth Padro
Slow but interesting.
Mysteryfan
I've previously enjoyed a number of Barbara Hambly's fantasy and historical fiction books. Here she writes about the first four First Ladies of the US, with Sally Heming appearing instead of Jefferson's late wife. She skips about in time and space and character point of view but she carries it out very well. It's easy to look back on American history now and forget that the new nation faced a host of problems. It was a good read by a good author.
Olivia
Apr 30, 2010 Olivia marked it as maybe-read
I started reading this book just before my internship to Alaska. It had some interesting bits, but was mostly dry and slow. I'm generally stubborn and finish books even if I'm not enjoying them much and I probably would've pushed through and finished, if it hadn't need to be returned to the library before I left. Frankly, I'm not sure if I'll ever pick it up again. From the parts I read I tenatively give it 1.5 stars.
Julie Anderson
Interesting, but a very difficult read.
Sarah
Really enjoyed the subject matter, the beginnings of the nation through the eyes of the founding mothers! I had difficulty like I have most novels that involved repetitious/similar names keeping everyone straight. And the chronology of the book was slightly irritating since it skipped forward and back and from woman to woman. It has been a nice reprieve from historical fiction about monarchies of Europe!
Sarah
This book took a while for me to get into because of all the side characters surrounding the four main women. The novel changes from person to person and back and forth from present to past, which isn't a problem unless you are trying to read it in short intervals over a month long period (how I read it). I'm guessing I would have liked it more if I'd had bigger blocks of time to devote to it.
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10333
aka Barbara Hamilton

Ranging from fantasy to historical fiction, Barbara Hambly has a masterful way of spinning a story. Her twisty plots involve memorable characters, lavish descriptions, scads of novel words, and interesting devices. Her work spans the Star Wars universe, antebellum New Orleans, and various fantasy worlds, sometimes linked with our own.


"I always wanted to be a writer but everyone...more
More about Barbara Hambly...
Children of the Jedi (Star Wars) Dragonsbane (Winterlands #1) The Time of the Dark (Darwath, #1) Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher, #1) The Armies of Daylight (Darwath, #3)

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