America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie is a captivating historical fiction novel based on the life of President Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. Known for much of her life as Patsy, she spent the majority of it in close proximity to her father. A witness to the early history of our nation and the beginnings of the French Revolution as a young girl with her father in Paris, her memories encapsulate a wide range of famous leaders and events of the era.
Prior to the early death of her mother, Patsy promised to take care of Thomas Jefferson. It was a promise she took to heart. Ever vigilante, she became his close confidante and protector. Her father never remarried, but Patsy did marry giving birth to twelve children.
This is a fascinating, revealing novel filled with intimate details of the lives of the people in it. As noted by the authors, much of the information is based on fact.
What I found very interesting was the fact that Thomas Jefferson’s wife and Sally Hemmings, Jefferson’s slave/mistress, were half-sisters. The topic of slavery is prominent in the story. I came away from it thinking that both Patsy and Sally were owned by Jefferson — granted in different ways, but still, both were dependant on, devoted to, and controlled by Jefferson.
Even though this is a romanticized version of the lives of the Jefferson family, I enjoyed it, learned from it, highly recommend it. I would love to see this book converted into a mini-series on PBS!