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 any bookseller. This is a must-read, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction. Five glorious stars!!
The story begins at the end of Jefferson's long and distinguished life. Each chapter begins with actual correspondence from/or to Thomas Jefferson. His daughter, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph, is preparing her father's papers, documents, and personal correspondence for publication. Patsy and her father shared a close, loving relationship. Patsy spent the majority of her life by her father's side, his fierce and loyal supporter, and she will do as she must to protect her father's legacy and reputation. Shortly after Jefferson dies at Monticello, Patsy spends most of her days sorting through the many papers her father has entrusted to her. As she reads and sorts, there are those papers that bring back memories and 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 she wants to share. Reputation is everything and Patsy chooses to burn that which would shed a negative light on Jefferson and her family. Is it here that Sally Hemings is erased from history? Did Sally and Jefferson have children together? What is the truth of the scandal at the Bizarre plantation belonging to the Randolph family?
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 written by readers that just don't get the concept of historical fiction and end up slamming a 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 of 1789." Or "Can't stomach another moment of this book because the author confused the dates. And 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 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. For those like me, if you're intersted in further knowledge about Jefferson and Martha, more resources can be found at AmericasFirstDaughter.com.
**I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway sponsored by William Morrow