America’s First Daughter was the perfect book to read over Fourth of July weekend. This was a historical fiction novel that focused on Martha, nee Patsy, Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter. This read almost as a memoir as Patsy followed her father through significant historical events such as the Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, and ultimately Jefferson’s presidency.
What I liked most about this novel was the wording, which evoked the time period perfectly. Apparently, the author relied heavily on letters written by the Jefferson family and used their own words whenever possible. I loved knowing that much of what I was reading was as close to an authentic depiction of Patsy’s life and experiences as possible.
Her experience of the American Revolution was harrowing, as her family fled from one location to another to ensure that the British would not locate her father since he was one of their main targets. I would have liked for there to have been more said about the American Revolution, as it was just briefly addressed. When Jefferson was sent to France, he took Patsy with him, and she witnessed the rise of the French people in revolt against the king and queen. Patsy was present at Versailles when Marie Antoinette stilled ruled the court!
Despite the exciting events in this novel, I had hoped for more attention to be paid to Patsy as she stood by Jefferson through his presidency and during the actions he too to shape the government. So much time was spent on Jefferson’s affair with a slave and her pregnancy, and then his term as president was over in just a few pages. Patsy was allegedly a sharp woman who tried hard to stop rumors about her father during the events held at his White House, but those efforts were, again, given very little attention. Overall this was just an okay read.