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Publisher's Summary

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, best-selling 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 15-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.

©2016 Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating!

Fascinating and interesting, wonderfully presented historical facts, even though slightly adapted. The narration is great. Very much enjoyed this audiobook!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • SDR
  • 25-05-2016

Fantastic!

I loved this book! It was well researched (as much as it could be given the edited nature of Thomas Jefferson's collection of letters) and very well written. A beautiful historic novel. For me, Cassandra Campbell's narration was a very integral part. She was perfect as the voice of Patsy Jefferson Randolph. Her accent was spot on.

46 of 48 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bernard
  • 01-05-2016

Absolutely Loved This Story!

This book is so well written. It brings to life so much history and makes one believe they are witnessing these important figures in our past come to life. The complicated interaction of one of America's most important families is fascinating. The narrator did a superb job bringing this story to life. These characters became so real that I must admit I cried in some parts of the story. So well done!

45 of 47 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • MissSusie66
  • 30-03-2016

Great Story Great Narration

I learned so much about this family and the time period from this book, I enjoyed the excerpts from actual letters it added such an authenticity to this fiction novel. As to the time period first and foremost there are slaves, and secondly the women are such second hand citizens, even though Thomas Jefferson did treat his daughters better than some. The abuse towards women was horrifying, that it was just commonplace made it worse to me. You could be hanged for stealing a horse but beating up your wife or mother in law or daughter was fine.

Of course we all know about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings relationship and I do feel like that’s what it was, I think Sally truly helped the Jefferson out of his deepest despair and I believe he was grateful for that. It did make me mad that he didn’t free her and their children upon his death. I think that is the least he could have done for all she went through.

I really like Martha’s husband Tom at first but boy oh boy as this book went on he became just like his own father. This woman had 11 children in an age where a lot of women died in childbirth including her own mother and her sister. But the alternative to not doing your wifely duties was to have your husband bed a slave so I guess if you wanted to keep your husband you just kept popping out babies.

The hardships and losses she went through were tough but they made her a very tough woman and I was very impressed with her.

I was also fascinated with the fact that the women were much more “political” than their husbands they were the ones that got the right people to the right dinners and parties and advanced their men’s careers, but of course got no credit for it


Cassandra's narration was fabulous will be surprised if this doesn't get an earphones award and possibly a Audie nomination next year so very well done! I enjoyed that Patsy’s (Martha) voice aged with her and became stronger as she became sure of herself. So well done! This book was 23 hours and I was never bored or distracted and was sad when it ended.

We read this for book club and there were some that felt the Paris section in the beginning was a little romancey but don’t let that put you of, she’s a young girl at the start and this section sets up events later in the book and also shows the lengths she will go for her father.

I see these two authors are writing another book together and I look forward to reading it! I highly recommend this book and even higher recommend it on audio!

4 ½ Stars

66 of 71 people found this review helpful

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  • Joyce
  • 19-03-2017

Southern accent ruined performance

Would you try another book from Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and/or Cassandra Campbell?

Yes. I love historical novels and the authors did a good job mixing history with fiction. .Perhaps a bit long. The excerpts of Thomas Jefferson's letters at the beginning of each chapter added little. At times I was confused as to their relevance to the chapter. But overall a good book. Cassandra Campbell is TRULY one of my favorite narrators and I look for her performances specifically. But....

What didn’t you like about Cassandra Campbell’s performance?

The breathy, little girl like southern accent was very irritating and distracting. Bad decision! And, by the way, I am a southerner.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

On TV, not in a theatre.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Kimberley Endicott
  • 08-05-2016

Loved this book!

Entertaining from the start, learned a lot, couldn't get through it fast enough. Amazing book. I can't wait to see what these authors do next!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • strawberry
  • 30-03-2016

A "pearl clutcher"

...I HAD to review this book.....It was simply AMAZING...SMH . In order to really enjoy a book like this. you must love history first of all. second be curious about who Jefferson was as a man and want to understand his relationship with his family and how Sally Hemmings fit in this tight circle. The story starts off So slow that It killed me at first but I eventually couldn't stop listening. it was beautiful and worth the wait...I might listen again in the future :)

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca Seaquist
  • 05-03-2017

Tiresome

What disappointed you about America's First Daughter?

I agree that this sounded like a young adult book. I thought there would be more history and that there would be more Thomas Jefferson. I could not finish it because I kept falling asleep

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • andrea Groves
  • 21-09-2016

Disappointing historical romance novel

Fascinating subject matter is simplified into what reads like a "young adult" romance novel. Superficial rather than subtle, and thin as opposed to dense historical detail, the prose disappoints. Too many words wasted in drawing out imagined romantic encounters, and long descriptions of mawkish sentimentality. Rich, multileveled historical information might have been added and written in such a way to challenge, and intellectually stimulate.

33 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • B. Newman
  • 17-10-2017

Political Correctness Abounds

Sorry, I couldn't get past the political correctness and thin veil of romanticism that takes center stage in this book. It would be a better story if the writer stuck to historical fact and refrained from injecting constant apologies for slavery, which was, albeit sadly, part of Jefferson's world.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • yankeeinseattle
  • 13-05-2016

Mostly compelling.

This book was an inspired idea! The narrative through Patsy's perspective was interesting, informative, and diverting. The writing was descriptive and rich. There is so much information about Jefferson, however, that I was disappointed by the writers' choice to include long passages of the protagonist's capricious moral musings and whining in lieu of more substance of story and history.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • 20-05-2016

Absolutely awesomeness!

I was not sure if I cried because of the conclusion or just because it had come to an end!

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  • TheFluffyViking
  • 15-05-2016

Amazing!

Stunning and gripping from beginning to end, a deep and detailed portrait of America's founding daughter.

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  • Lynn
  • 11-05-2016

A great listen!

Really enjoyed this book. I have an interest in American history and have visited Monticello so could visualise some of the rooms described.