Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Booking Mamas' April 2016 Meeting

Summary: 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. -- William Morrow

Last night, The Booking Mamas met to discuss AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. I was more than a little concerned that many of us wouldn't finish the novel because it was so long (over 620 pages); however, all but one finished it (and she's from Israel and Australia so maybe she just didn't have the same interest in Jefferson.) I think that just might be the biggest testament to AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER. The vast majority of our group loved it... and didn't want it to end. I wasn't quite as enthusiastic but I'll share my thoughts in a few days when I write my review.

Everyone was pretty anxious to discuss the novel. There was a lot of time spent discussing the actual historical events and what was real versus fiction. We all admitted to learning a lot about President Jefferson and the early years of our country, and we ended up talking quite a bit about the role of slavery in the South. In addition, we all agreed that the research that went into writing this story was amazing!

Our lovely hostess for the evening really outdid herself to make the evening special. Over our spring break, she visited Monticello and picked up a few things from the gift shop including a book about Jefferson's children. She also served traditional southern cheese straws and sugared pecans that were recommended by the shop's staff. And how sweet is this? She bought all of us scented soaps from Monticello. I picked the lavender and it smells heavenly!
There is a reading guide for AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER, and we also received a special packet of bonus material from the publisher about the novel. It really is fun to be one of Book Club Girls' book clubs! We found that we didn't really need formal discussion questions, but it's nice to know they exist.. just in case.

Next month, we picked WHEN THE MOON IS LOW by Nadia Hashimi. We selected this book from a lot of great choices. Personally, I adore stories that take place in another country, and I'm very excited to read this one!

Summary: Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.

Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.

Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives. -- William Morrow

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Historical fiction isn't my favorite genre so I'm not sure I could stick with a book this thick. I'm glad your book club enjoyed it so much. I still need to make you some of my cheese straws!