Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dad Reviews: America's First Daughter

Today I have a very special guest reviewer - my dad! *high five for family participation* As you guys know, I've been a bit behind lately on reviews as work is infringing on my reading time (boo!), and my dad was nice enough to step up (along with my mom and mother-in-law) to try his hand at reviewing. While I don't think I'll be able to convince him to read and review any YA or adult romance, it's nice to have a little genre variety here on the blog, so thank you Dad for helping me out!

AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER
Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Historical Fiction
William Morrow
624 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.


DAD'S THOUGHTS
When reading this book, one has to remember that this is not a history book. It’s a novel. So it’s much more interesting to read because the characters come to life through dialog that is “creative license.”  But it is strongly based on history, and in fact, each chapter does open with a written record of something from Tom himself. (If you read this book, you can call him Tom. After 624 pages, you should be on a first name basis with anybody.)
 

So you won’t learn a lot that’s new to you about Tom himself unless you are really unfamiliar with him to begin with. You DO come to appreciate what a struggle it was to start up a country: the risks the founding fathers took with their lives, the relationships they had with each other – who they liked, who they didn’t – and the work it took to bring it all together even after the war was done.
 

But mostly, you gain real insight into how incredibly difficult it was to live 200 years ago in a society that ranged from moneyed plantation owners to regular farmers and tradesmen to slaves. Added to that mix are the views of men toward women and vice versa in a land where life was fragile and dangerous, and you and your family’s very survival depended upon each other. It was a complicated culture whose vestiges are still with us today even though we have shed many of the discomforts, dangers and distasteful doctrines of that time. 
 

It’s a heavy topic and a long read, but you come to know the characters quite well and wish the best for their future, even though you know how it ends. Because hey, It’s based on history. But served up much better than you remember in high school.

Find Stephanie:


Find Laura:

28 comments:

  1. Oh my, I loved this review! Wonderful job and I love your sense of humor that came through it. ;)

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    1. Thank you. Maybe Jenny will let me do another one. But it won't be often. I can only read a handful of pages at a time before I fall asleep!

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  2. An interesting topic. It's a new one to me but it looks well done

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    1. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, especially American history. Weird, as history was never one of my favorite subjects in school.

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  3. Just read this amazing new YA fiction on Ganesha - Part 1 of the Temple Wars series - I think everyone should check it out! Temple Wars

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  4. Ooh, this is such an interesting take on this novel! I haven't read a lot of historical fiction that's truly informative so I'm going to have to put this on my TBR. Thanks for putting this on my radar! :)

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    1. You're welcome. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

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  5. Hiya, Jenny's dad! :)
    I was very curious about this book, especially since I enjoy historical-based stories quite a bit. The fact that it's long puts me off though. The characters sound decent though so I might give it a shot one of these days.
    Great review! :)

    P.S Jenny, you should make it a goal to get your dad to read a romance novel! I think it would be funny! :D

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    1. Jenny trying to get me to read a romance novel -- now THAT would be funny.

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  6. I love that your dad is helping out! That's fantastic. I wish I could get my dad to help out... :) I read this book a few months ago and really enjoyed it. I also really liked the excerpts from letters that start off each chapter...definitely set the tone. I'm glad your dad enjoyed this book overall!

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    1. I agree -- the letters made it much more real "history" and believable, even though it's technically a novel.

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  7. Family blogging!! Now you only have to convince the hubby too, Jenny!

    And that you for this great review! I got this one from Edelweiss and I still need to read it! I'm glad to hear that it's both entertaining and also very historical!

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    1. Now there's a suggestion that's gonna cause me trouble!

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  8. I've been very curious about this book and love your refreshing review with its touch of humor. History, and that of our founding fathers, seen through a lesser known perspective (even with creative license) can just make it so much more appealing.

    Thanks for the wonderful review! :)

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  9. I think you're right. Might be one reason why "Hamilton" is such a hit on Broadway.

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  10. I hope with the popularity of Hamilton that people begin to appreciate historical fiction much more. It's definitely a hard sell for me to my students in my library, but I keep telling them it's much more interesting than their textbooks. ;) Great review, Jenny's dad!

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  11. Yes. It only took me a few decades to realize that. There's hope for your students yet!

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  12. This book has been on my radar for awhile now, so I'm glad to see you (Jenny's dad) review it. I love history, even fictionalized like this. Honestly, though, I find reading about the real lives of people in the past super interesting too. Hopefully I can read this soon. Great review, dad!

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    1. I understand that the book very closely parallels the real lives of its characters, so I think you'll find the best of both worlds here.

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  13. Wonderful review, Dad! 624 pages is a long book, but as you said probably more interesting than what was served up in high school. I have mixed feelings about Thomas Jefferson. He influenced our country in good ways but he was definitely an imperfect man.

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  14. Just picked up the Temple Wars book! Book 1 is fascinating and had me engaged from page one! You guys should check it out! Temple Wars

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  15. You even got your dad to blog?! Wow, you are the best

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    1. It's that "wrapped around your little finger" thing, don't you know. Daughters are like that.

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  16. So cool to have a dad review! This book looks interesting--I'm not a great historian so I could learn a lot.

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    1. Well, I learned a lot. And I found it to be one of those books that stays with you with insights into those times.

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  17. It's great to read your perspective on this book! I love historical fiction, too, but tend to gravitate to stories about the wars. This one is interesting as it is a bit closer to home, so to speak.

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  18. Very little about the Revolutionary War in this one -- it picks up right at the end. It's a little more like "John Adams" in that you see what was happening to get the country set up. But its focus is on the characters and families that are usually more out of sight.

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