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.
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.
“America’s First Daughter brings a turbulent era to vivid life. All the conflicts and complexities of the Early Republic are mirrored in Patsy’s story. It’s breathlessly exciting and heartbreaking by turns-a personal and political page-turner.” (Donna Thorland, author of The Turncoat)
“Painstakingly researched, beautifully hewn, compulsively readable -- this enlightening literary journey takes us from Monticello to revolutionary Paris to the Jefferson White House, revealing remarkable historical details, dark family secrets, and bringing to life the colorful cast of characters who conceived of our new nation. A must read.” (Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress)
I froze, breathless, my belly roiling with shock and anger and revulsion. I ought to have pretended that I didn’t hear him say my name. I ought to have hurried on, leaving him with only the sight of my back. I ought never to have looked up at him over my shoulder.
But I did look up.
There on the landing my father loomed tall, a tendril of his ginger hair having come loose from its ribbon, his shirt worn without its neck cloth, the stark white linen setting off more vividly the red flush that crept up his throat. Was it shame for his behavior with Sally or . . . ardor?
On the heels of giving witness to his behavior, the thought was so excruciatingly horrifying that heat swept over me, leaving me to wish I’d burn away to dust.
“Are you hurt?” Papa asked, hoarsely.
I couldn’t reply, my mouth too filled with the bitter taste of bile. Finally, I forced a shake of my head.
He glanced back to the door, then back at me, his hand half-covering his mouth. “Were—were you at my door just now?”
“No,” I whispered, as much as I could manage under my suffocating breathlessness. And how dare he ask if I’d been at his door when neither of us could bear the honest answer? Even if Papa didn’t know what I’d seen, he knew what he’d done.
He ought to have been downstairs with us, reacquainting himself with the little daughter who still didn’t remember him. He ought to have been sipping cider with the young man who fancied me, giving his permission to court. He ought to have been doing a hundred other things. Instead, he was preying upon my dead mother’s enslaved half-sister—and the wrongness of it filled my voice with a defiant rage.
“No, I wasn’t at your door.” I held his gaze, letting him see what he would.
My father paused on the precipice, clearing his throat, absently smearing the corner of his lips with one thumb. “Well—well. . .did you need something?” As if my needs were at the forefront of his thoughts.
My fingers curled into fists as a lie came to me suddenly, and sullenly. “I was coming up to fetch my prayer book.” Surely he knew it was a lie, but I didn’t care. If he challenged me, I’d lie again, without even the decency of dropping my eyes. I’d lie because between a father and a daughter, what I’d witnessed was unspeakable. And I’d learned from the man who responded with silence to my letters about politics or adultery or the liberation of slaves. . . .
Papa never spoke on any subject he didn’t want to.
Neither would I.
“Are you certain you weren’t hurt,” Papa finally murmured, “ . . . on the stairs?”
I couldn’t face him, so I merely stopped, my chest heaving with the effort to restrain myself from taking flight. “What?”
Swallowing hard, I forced words out despite the pain. “I’ve reconsidered my need of it. I’m not as apt as some people to forget what it says.”
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1oT6Hon
Add it to your Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25817162-america-s-first-daughter