America’s First Daughter

Hey there, bookworms! We made it to Friday! All I can say.. is thank.freaking.goodness! It’s been a hellish and exhausting week and I can’t wait to dive into some reading this weekend.

I still have a small handful of reviews and posts to get there, but I’m trying really hard to get back onto a regular blogging schedule, so I’m finally catching up! That’s a good thing, because I have to tell you about a book I stayed up late last night to finish and can NOT stop obsessing over. Tonight, I’m talking about America’s First Daughter by the writing duo, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.

A little disclaimer before we begin. I’m a MASSIVE history nerd, and even more so, American History (mostly Revolution and Civil War). Between having the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat most days, our recent Independence Day in America, a few historical road trips over the past couple of months, and the current state of affairs in our nation, I couldn’t help but pick up this book. I actually purchased it months ago, but when I was going through my personal shelves looking for something that just “spoke” to me in the moment, this was the one that won out instantly. After spending almost a full month savoring every page, I can finally say it was well worth the journey.

I always knew the Founding Fathers were superheroes of sorts. As Thomas Jefferson told me when I was in Williamsburg not too long ago, “we stand on the shoulders of giants”, and while he was referring to those who came even before him, I know I can say this about these men as well. Speaking of Jefferson…

While First Daughter is a work of historical fiction, the authors clearly did their research and brought in material from thousands of letters and documents to tell the story through the eyes of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph. We meet her as she travels with her father and family to escape the British during The Revolution and follow every monumental moment of her life to an Andrew Jackson presidency.

Throughout most of the book, she speaks of her father doing his duty to the American nation, but what she doesn’t tell us directly is the part she played helping to shape the country. The Jefferson family suffered quite a bit, and thanks to Patsy, I was able to go behind closed doors and really understand and sympathize with not only their family, but the author of The Declaration of Independence and our third president.

My heart ached for Mr. Jefferson, yet I learned so much more about him and his brilliant but tortured soul. His losses are tremendous, whether it’s of a child or his beloved wife, but his duty to family and country are to be admired greatly. He promises his dying partner he’ll never marry again, so Patsy becomes his companion of sorts and helps him on days when he can’t even seem to get out of bed. Of crows, he has Sally too, but his relationship with her causes his soul to tear in two as he tries to make the right decisions, while also keeping her safe from public ridicule.

Patsy deserves all the credit in the world. She cares for her father whether they’re under the same roof, or far apart. She advises him on matters of family and state, while also keeping their home at Monticello afloat as best she can. With an abusive husband and eleven children of her own, she never loses heart, and does what she can to make sure everyone is seen to and cared for properly.

This story is so rich in history, drama, romance, and politics, that it can draw in numerous audiences. There is something for everyone, I assure you. I walked away from these pages having learned infinitely more about my country’s founding, the genius who helped to establish our roots, and the daughter who went above and beyond her patriotic duty and shared the gift of her father with us all. I didn’t want it to end, and now all I want to do is gobble up more novels just like this one!

I think, while I seek out my next look into the past, I’ll need to take a drive to the famous Monticello, so stay tuned!

My Final Rating: five out of five stars

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