Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Release date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 606
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Purchased
Links: AuthorsGoodreadsAmazon

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars 
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.


I loved this! Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres particularly when it's about someone/something I don't know too much about. What most impressed me was how much detail went into AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER. This book followed Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Patsy, for her entire life. Of course even in 600 pages that isn't enough to cover every important moment, but I still felt I learned a lot about both Patsy and her father. Thomas Jefferson has always been a fascinating figure to me and I liked getting to see this more intimate side of him. Patsy and her father had an incredible relationship and she was present for some of the most important moments in history.

Patsy was born in Virginia and eventually followed her father from Monticello to Paris to the White House. After her mother died, Patsy became the one her father confided in and relied on. It truly makes you wonder what exactly her impact was on our nation's history. The author's utilized letters and journals to provide as much accuracy as they could to this story of Patsy Jefferson. They were fairly liberal with their creation of her relationship with William Short and relied quite heavily on the fact that Thomas Jefferson may have had a serious relationship with Sally Hemmings. Still, these are rumors that many feel have substance and it was interesting to see how these situations affected Patsy and shaped her life. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Patsy to maintain her strength and composure when her father was such a public figure. She did her best to protect him and seemed to be one of his only confidants.

Thomas Jefferson is one of our most well-known presidents and shapers of our nation. While we do get to see a more personal side of this legendary man, what I most liked about this book was learning about Patsy's life and how her father's actions shaped her own life. What a life it was. Patsy had some incredible adventures and experiences early in life, but unfortunately married a man who struggled with drinking and bad temper. It was awful to see how much Patsy and her father struggled at the end.

AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER is a lengthy read and packed full of information. The authors do discuss what liberties they took at the end and I also did some of my own research on Patsy and her family after I finished reading. There are so many "hidden figures" in our nation's history and I am excited to read Dray and Kamoie's next book on Alexander Hamilton's wife, Eliza. In the early days of the United States women are often left in the background, yet they often made such a significant impact. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction.

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