Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie's America's First Daughter. I do have a copy available to give away today, so be sure to read through to the end to enter.
From the time of his wife's death through to his own, Thomas Jefferson had one woman by his side at all times - his daughter Patsy. She promised her mother, on her death bed, that she would always look after her father and she lived by her word.
Using historical letters from Jefferson's own collection, saved and preserved by Patsy herself, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie have built a tale with Patsy herself as the narrator - beginning with the family's run from Monticello with the British hot on their heels in 1781 through her time in Paris, her doomed love and even worse marriage, to just a few years before her own death. It's amazing, too, just how much there is about Jefferson and Patsy to pull from for such a story. While there are of course embellishments, the authors note that they've very carefully stuck by the known history to give readers what appears to be an honest and unflinching look at this fascinating woman.
The story has an interesting framework, using actual quotes from letters as the heading of each chapter and told from the perspective of Patsy as she goes through those exact correspondences in the days after her father's death - as though the letters themselves are prompting her own remembrance of the time in which they were written. Of course the Jeffersons - Patsy and her father in particular - are not without fault and the authors don't flinch from portraying the scandal of Jefferson's affair with Sally Hemmings or even Patsy's own attempts (obvious or otherwise) to cover up things that she believed would harm her father's reputation.
One downside of this kind of story, and the framework in particular, is the fact that there is obviously so much to cover. Patsy lived into her sixties and any tome about a life like hers could stretch well beyond the 500+ pages in America's First Daughter. As such, the jumps between some of the chapters and pieces of her life that are portrayed keep the book from flowing as smoothly as some readers might prefer. Instead we're given snippets of what the authors have deemed the most important chapters of Patsy's life, the most formative and informative for the story. And they've done it quite well. While the beginning felt somewhat stilted, Patsy's move to Paris in particular marked a point in the story where I felt more comfortable and more drawn in.
Patsy is, again, a fascinating figure and one I knew absolutely nothing about before the release of this book. Given the current mad popularity of Hamilton (which does some of the same historical figures, including Jefferson), I've no doubt America's First Daughter will also capture the attention of some of the same audience. Historical fiction fans of course will also want to get their hands on this one!
And that brings me to the giveaway! To enter to win your very own copy of America's First Daughter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 28. Open US only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on the authors: you can find Stephanie Dray's website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. And you can visit Laura Kamoie here and like her Facebook and follow her on Twitter as well.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble