Mary's Reviews > America's First Daughter

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
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America's First Daughter is one of the best books I've ever read and now holds the title as my favorite book of 2016. Splendid read from start to finish. Historical fiction at it's finest. I REALLY loved this book and I could gush all day and night but then I would waste your time when you should be reading this instead. GO! Visit your library or favorite bookstore. This is a must-read, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction.

The story begins at the end of Jefferson's long, distinguished life. Each chapter starts with actual correspondence from/or to Thomas Jefferson. His daughter, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph, is preparing her father's private papers, documents, and personal correspondence for publication. Father and daughter shared a close, loving relationship. Patsy spent the majority of her life by Jefferson's side, his fierce and loyal supporter. Martha will do as she must to protect her father's legacy and reputation. Shortly after Jefferson dies at Monticello, Patsy spends most of days sifting through the many papers Jefferson entrusted to her. As she reads and sorts, there are those papers that bring back memories. As Patsy reflects upon each, we are allowed a glimpse of life at Monticello, coming of age in Paris, the Presidency, and Jefferson's twilight years. Patsy must then decide which of her father's documents to share with the public. Reputation is everything and Patsy chooses to burn that which would shed negative light on Jefferson and her family. Is it here that Sally Hemings' true meaning to the President is erased from history? Did Thomas Jefferson father the Hemings children? Surely, it must be so. What is the truth of the scandal at the Bizarre plantation belonging to the Randolph family? Was Martha an abused and neglected wife? Did Martha rewrite the history of our nation's founding father? Judge for yourselves. Had I been in Martha's position, I would have rid the world of unfavorable glimpses into my father's private life, especially if all eyes were on my family, looking for ways to defame our name and my father's prestigious work. What would you do?

Now, for those of you that don't fully comprehend historical fiction and get easily offended when details are not historically accurate, the author(s) took certain liberties here. Please understand that, although based on history, much of the story is fictional and many details are added for drama and entertainment. I feel I must say this because I read so many reviews by readers that don't get the concept of historical fiction and end up slamming an outstanding book negatively because of inaccuracies. Comments like, "I just can't read anymore. Have to stop now because the dialect used didn't exist in the year 1789." And "Can't stomach another moment of this book because the author confused the dates." Or..."That never happened!" WHAT?! You do realize it's called HISTORICAL FICTION, right?! ~sigh~ Anyway, as I mentioned in some of my updates as I was reading this book, Dray and Kamoie did a phenomenal job researching what must have been an endless amount of information. Jefferson was an astute and consummate journaler and it is said that biographers can find notes on every day of Jefferson's adult life. Every. Single. Day. I'm telling you now, historical fiction authors know their history!! Just sit back and enjoy the book. After all, reading takes lots of imagination. Do you fault an author for creativity? No! I adore history. I don't claim to be a JEOPARDY champion, but I know stuff. Lots of stuff! I'm cool with an author's creative twist on historical events. I welcome it, in fact. I enjoy the what ifs and fill in the blanks. I mean, c'mon. Do you honestly think historians get every detail accurate? Hmm. Historical fiction authors ROCK!! This book rocks! FIVE I'm-my-Father's-Favorite-Daughter blingin' stars!

For those history lovin' peeps like me, if you're intersted in gaining further knowledge about Jefferson and Martha, additional resources can be found at

#BestBookOf2016 #historicalfiction #histficauthors #drayandkamoie

**I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway sponsored by William Morrow.
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Reading Progress

February 3, 2015 – Started Reading
August 15, 2015 – Shelved
August 15, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
August 15, 2015 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
February 10, 2016 – Shelved as: arc
February 10, 2016 – Shelved as: book-club
February 10, 2016 – Shelved as: hardcover-paperback-own
February 10, 2016 – Shelved as: history
February 10, 2016 – Shelved as: first-reads-giveaways
February 23, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016-book-challenge
February 23, 2016 – Shelved as: all-time-faves
February 23, 2016 – Shelved as: american-lit
February 23, 2016 – Shelved as: mother-daughter-family
February 23, 2016 – Finished Reading
July 7, 2016 – Shelved as: won

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Awesome review. Will be reading this one soon.

Mary Oh! You will love it!! I wish I was still reading it.

message 3: by MaryKate (new) - added it

MaryKate I have requested in from my library :)

message 4: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann William Short ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Mary Ann, Short was dreamy, wasn't he?

Mary I'm not sure HOW Martha was able to resist him as long as she did.

message 7: by Bam (new) - added it

Bam Great rave review! I hadn't yet heard of this one and have now added it to my tbr pile. Thanks!

Mary I adored this book. Hope you enjoy, Bam. Look forward to your review. :)

M.K. Just finished it a few days ago. I'm in awe that two authors writing together could have produced such a wonderful story.

message 10: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary M.K., this is one of those books that I will always cherish and remember. The characters were truly missed after completing the read. Jefferson really came to life on the pages. The dynamic duo of Dray & Kamoie are super heroes to me. I've added MY DEAR HAMILTON, their next book, set to release April 2018, to my wishlist. I really hope I can get my hands on an ARC. April is way too far away. Dray and Kamoie, two of my faves!

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