America’s First Daughter (Dray and Kamoie)

America’s First Daughter (Dray and Kamoie)

I really enjoyed this story of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson and subsequently Thomas Jefferson.  Patsy Jefferson spent her life devoted to being there for her father, even after she is grown and married.  This novel was written based off of the many many letters written between father and daughter, and the authors do include information at the end of the book explaining that they did from time to time take artist liberties and embellish, or recreate events, and that while the events did take place, they may not be represented in the book exactly as they really happened.

I listened to the audio version of this novel (available through the library’s Overdrive/Libby collection) and I thought it was extremely well done.  The book is written from a first person perspective, so as you are listening, you really feel as though Patsy herself is telling the story.

This novel reminded me a great deal of “I, Eliza Hamilton” by Susan Holloway Scott, and as with that book, when I got done, I felt like I had just listened to a very enjoyable history lesson.

CRDL does not own a print copy of this title, but it can be accessed through the Libby (or Overdrive) app.

American's First Daughter Book Cover American's First Daughter
Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Historical Fiction
William Morrow
March 1, 2016
print, ebook, audiobook

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

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