Wednesday, March 2, 2016

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


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.

Paperback, 624 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN 0062347268 (ISBN13: 9780062347268)

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About the Authors

Stephanie Dray writes historical fiction and fantasy. Using the transformative power of magic realism, she illuminates the stories of women in history so as to inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

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Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

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My Thoughts
Sons of a revolution fight for liberty. 
The idea behind this story is that Jefferson’s daughter Patsy is going through Jefferson's collection of letters after his death. Jefferson was known for being an eloquent writer (having been the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence), and wrote many letters in his lifetime. Jefferson's letters guide us through the life of his daughter Patsy, indeed through history itself, and the resulting story reveals to us Jefferson through the eyes of a devoted daughter.

The story opens during the American Revolution, with the Jefferson family on the run and in hiding. Tragedy strikes repeatedly, and Jefferson falls into a depression after the loss of his wife. Being the eldest child, a young Patsy becomes the "woman of the house" at 10 years of age after her mother's death, and it is her job to look after her father and sisters. She takes her duty to her father very seriously, and won't leave his side, eventually accompanying him to France.

Patsy is a strong-willed and intelligent young girl who grows to be a well traveled and worldly young woman. She acquires over her youth the social grace to handle herself in politically-charged gatherings, and even smooth things over when her father flubs something.
Accompanying them to France is Jefferson’s apprentice William Short. He essentially idolizes Jefferson and would do almost anything for him. He is also quite fond of Patsy. They share the same beliefs about slavery and the “wrongness” of it.

Also accompanying the family to France is Sally Hemings, the beautiful slave that is rumored to be the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife. She is also rather intelligent, even regal, and has a will of her own that she will enforce when she feels it necessary.

I think we've all heard the stories about Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. This novel takes the perspective that Hemings and Jefferson may have been in love, or at least had some sort of connection. The story portrays an apparent tenderness and affection between the two, and a long-term relationship resulting in numerous supposed children together.

After the first 100 pages, the book held me every moment. I was bored in the beginning by Jefferson and his misery after his wife's death, but once he came out of it and the story picked up, it held my attention and had me craving to know what would happen next.

Then I found myself wanting to finish the story, so I could then go on to read up on Jefferson, his daughter and the other characters, to see how much of this story seemed to be true.

As Patsy matured and found romantic interests, I found myself concerned that the story may degrade into some tale of flowery romance, but the story in fact maintained its integrity.
I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Tuesday, March 1st: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, March 2nd: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, March 3rd: From L.A. to LA
Friday, March 4th: Read-Love-Blog
Monday, March 7th: Luxury Reading
Monday, March 7th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, March 8th: Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, March 9th: Reading Reality
Thursday, March 10th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, March 11th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Monday, March 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, March 15th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, March 16th: bookchickdi
Thursday, March 17th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, March 18th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, March 21st: Puddletown Reviews
Tuesday, March 22nd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

My final word: The story was slow to start and grab me, but in the end I really, really liked the tale told about Patsy and her life as the daughter of Thomas Jefferson. The authors really brought the characters to life, and made them highly sympathetic. Jefferson is actually a secondary character in this story. It is really all about Patsy-- her strength, her determination, her loyalty and devotion, commitment and constant love. It's an extraordinary tale, with an extraordinary woman and cast of secondary characters, not the least of whom is Thomas Jefferson himself. Jefferson is known for having said "I cannot live without books", and you, my friends, should not live without this one! Get thee to a book store posthaste!

Buy Now:

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My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.  

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm in the middle of a Revolutionary War era story myself right now, and this book would be a great follow up.

Thanks for being a part of the tour.