“I have to be the pillar to hold it all up…”
America’s First Daughter: A Novel by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.
Martha “Patsy” Jefferson is Thomas Jefferson’s (the third President of the United States) daughter. The story started when Martha “Patsy” Jefferson was only eight year old.
What was America’s first Daughter like then? Once she said to herself, “I’d lost my mother, my siblings, and my childhood, lost my first love and my financial future… I couldn’t bear to sacrifice another thing.” It was when her husband and son went to the war.
Later, she had battled with her alcoholic husband, raised 12 kids and her daughter’s kids (after her daughter died). At the same time, she had taken the responsibility of managing the Monticello plantation which was in deep debts, and women had no protection under the law. Needless to say, slavery was legal, Thomas Jefferson believed it would be the next generation’s responsibility to resolve.
In her heart she knew, “If I want to hold my family together, if I want my children to survive, I could neither be tired or ill, if I want to carve out anything for myself or anyone I loved, I couldn’t lean or waver. I have to be the pillar to hold it all up… if only because I was Thomas Jefferson’s daughter.” So much she had endured, she indeed had been the pillar.
The last scene in the book was: Patsy was on a train and ready for her new adventure, “For I’m to travel, for the first time, upon a railway train…”, as if it was reflecting the first long trip she made with her father to France by boat when she was at around 12.
“Martha ‘Patsy’ Jefferson Randolph’s relations with her father, the third President of the United States, not only defined her life, but also shaped the identity of our nation. For everything we know of the author of our independence is what she let pass to us in posterity.” — “Notes from Authors”
Authors also stated how the book was constructed and explained the sources, including the omissions and the adoption of Patsy’s romance with Mr Short and her abusive husband.
Martha ‘Patsy’ Jefferson Randolph was born on September 27, 1772, died on October 10, 1836 (aged 64).
The photo above is from Wikipedia.
Two other books I read in March:
Amy Harmon’s “From Sand and Ash” is A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist, Historical Fiction.