Review – America’s First Daughter

Posted October 18, 2021 by Carole in Reviews / 6 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review – America’s First DaughterAmerica's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Published by William Morrow, HarperAudio on March 1, 2016
Genres: Fiction / Historical / General
Length: 23 hours 28 minutes
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Library, Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |


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.

I am a little surprised by just how much I liked this book. I have had this book for years and just never seemed to be able to work it in, largely because it is a longer book and I knew that it would take more time to read. Of course, that didn’t matter once I started reading because I looked forward to every chance I had to dive back into this book. It is a really interesting story and it is obviously well-researched. I often found myself stopping the book to read more about certain historical characters and events as I made my way through this wonderful book.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Martha or “Patsy”. The authors did a fantastic job of making her come alive in this book. Martha is the eldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson. When I was in school, I learned about Jefferson but they conveniently failed to mention some of the less than pleasant things that he did. I liked that the book didn’t shy away from these topics. There were many times in this book that I did not care for Jefferson at all. Martha was easier to like but she definitely had her faults too. Her life was very interesting but not easy. I spent a lot of the book thinking about how lucky I am to live in today’s world. Little things like birth control and being able to make decisions for ourselves are things that I have taken for granted but were not a part of women’s lives not so long ago.

Cassandra Campbell did a fabulous job with the narration of this book. I have enjoyed her work in the past but I think that her performance really shined with this book. She brought these characters and this time period to life. I thought that the voices that she used were very well done and I loved how much emotion she was able to bring to her narration. I feel that her performance added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. I really liked that the focus of the book was the daughter of a famous figure and thought that her perspective was a compelling one. Martha lived an interesting life with her time in Paris, the front row seat to everything that went into the early years of our nation, her marriage, and her time with her father while he served as President, not to mention the fact that she raised 11 children. I would not hesitate to read more of this writing pair’s work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from William Morrow via Edelweiss and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

6 responses to “Review – America’s First Daughter

  1. I always have trouble with historical fiction because then I want to know what really happened. I mean when it is about real people. It sounds like a great read with some really tough decisions and facts for women of the time which I would expect.

  2. I remember when this came out and I was intrigued but somehow never got around to reading it. This sounds really wonderful. I’ve read a bit about Jefferson and been to Monticello a few times and while I admire his intelligence and vision I’ve never been a big Jefferson fan. I would like to know more about Martha and I like that the author really made her come alive. I will definitely pick this one up.