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Archive: Other Books > America's First Daughter - Dray/Kamoie - 4 stars

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message 1: by Jgrace (last edited Feb 02, 2017 04:24PM) (new)

Jgrace | 2676 comments America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray

America’s First Daughter - Dray/ Kamoie
Audio performance by Cassandra Campbell
4 stars

Is there such a thing as speculative historical fiction? If so, this book falls into that category. It is a very readable book, told in the voice of a vibrant personality. As fiction, I don’t have any complaints with it, but as a representation of prominent historical figures, I think it stretches the known facts.

America’s First Daughter is Patsy Jefferson Randolph’s first person account of her life from her earliest childhood until just after the death of her famous father. What I wouldn’t give to have a real autobiography of this woman! Imagine what she witnessed in her lifetime. That is just what the coauthors of this book do. They imagine it, based on reams of historical artifacts and research. I loved the descriptive detail and the attention they paid to the day to day restrictions and responsibilities of a woman like Patsy Jefferson. There is really very little of this book that would be proveably inaccurate. The authors’ notes explain where events have been compressed or slightly changed to assist the narrative.

There are naturally many places where there isn’t a factual record. Fiction writers fill in the blanks in ways that seem plausible. In this book, Patsy Jefferson’s relationship to her father, her thoughts about Sally Hemings, and her (possibly) violent husband are all reasonable speculations. I think her romantic interest in the diplomat, William Short, was factually unlikely. However, in this story, it served a purpose to highlight the ethical conflicts that slaveholding represents for the Jefferson family. It was a good story, one that I enjoyed. I just wish it hadn’t been told from a first person perspective. It’s one thing to speculate about Patsy Jefferson’s teen-aged infatuation with William Short, or about her relationship to Sally Hemings, but it’s something else to actually put the words in her mouth.

This was good historical fiction. I made me want to read some nonfiction about the Jefferson/Hemings families. And, it caused me to remember that I’ve always wanted to visit Monticello.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

So happy to read another positive review about this book as I will be reading it for a May book discussion! That is great that the novel made you want to check out some non-fiction books on the subject, Jgrace.


message 3: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2676 comments Lisa Ann ✿ wrote: "So happy to read another positive review about this book as I will be reading it for a May book discussion! That is great that the novel made you want to check out some non-fiction books on the sub..."

It should be a good discussion book. There's a huge disconnect between the Jefferson the writer of 'All men are created equal...' and Jefferson the slaveholder. Jefferson's daughter has a truly unique place in history.


message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8081 comments I just adored this one through and through. Five stars and it made my top 10. Loved it!


message 5: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 672 comments I love good historical fiction because it stirs the mind. This one is going on my list.


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