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America's First Daughter: A Novel    by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie Amazon.com order for
America's First Daughter
by Stephanie Dray
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2016 (2016)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tells the tale of Martha Jefferson from the time of the Revolutionary War to her death in the 1840s. The inspiration for this work was Thomas Jeffersonís vast letter collection that eventually ended up in the hands of the government. He was a dedicated letter writer who thrived on voicing his thoughts and opinions with pen and ink. He received answers which he kept for posterity.

Martha (or Patsy as her family called her) stayed by her fatherís side from the death of her mother to his death many years later. Jefferson became President but seldom received compensation from the government. Martha acted as First Lady all through the years of her fatherís battles to do the right thing. She gave up her first love because her father needed her by his side. She eventually married, having eleven children, but all the time, Jefferson was first in line for her care and wisdom. All through the years, money problems weighed on both their shoulders. Monticello cost great sums to maintain. They lived in near poverty for much of their lives. And then there was the scandal spreading that Jefferson had taken a black slave into his bed!

Some letters were destroyed, but the number left was prodigious and helped the two authors to produce a very readable and enjoyable book centered on a woman of whom I had heard nothing. What a hard existence women had at that time. Come to think of it, most of history can tell the story of what life meant to be a woman. But it rarely does. America's First Daughter is a satisfyingly lengthy novel, written with compassion for an extraordinary woman.

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