Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

America's First Daughter: A Novel

America's First Daughter: A Novel

4.9 38
by Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie

See All Formats & Editions


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



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.

Editorial Reviews

Donna Thorland
“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.”
Allison Pataki
“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.”
C.W. Gortner
“[A] triumphant, controversial, and fascinating plunge into the complexities of Revolutionary America, where women held power in subtle ways and men hid dangerous secrets. You’ll never look at Jefferson or his legacy the same way again.”
Historical Novel Society
“This is a stunning historical novel that will keep you up late, hoping the engaging story never ends. Highly, highly recommended!”
Kirkus Reviews
A Founding Father's daughter tells all! At the age of 10, upon the death of her mother, Patsy Jefferson steps into the role of mistress of the house for her father, Thomas. Patsy, our narrator, recounts the story of a man of great contradictions. He proclaims his love for domestic life but is repeatedly drawn to public service and repeatedly fails to manage his great estate, Monticello, losing it after his death to creditors. Then there is the matter of his slaves—"Our slave-holding spokesman for freedom," taunts a schoolmate of Patsy's when Jefferson serves as an American envoy in Paris. His hypocrisy includes a long-standing affair with Sally Hemings, who was not only his slave, but his wife's sister. Authors Dray (Daughters of the Nile, 2013, etc.) and Kamoie (Irons in the Fire, 2007) have performed tireless research. Whether it's detailing Patsy's life as a debutante in Paris, where she dances with Lafayette and witnesses the first flickers of the French Revolution, or recounting the world of a Virginia plantation, they've done their homework. Indeed, their fidelity to history can be excessive: so many Virginia cousins, scandals, and disinheritances can weary the reader, especially when the prose takes a sappy turn ("Watching him struggle against undeserved abuse from such a villain made me forgive him, truly"). Patsy marries her cousin Tom Randolph and bears him 11 children while enduring his abuse, but she remains most devoted to maintaining her father's happiness, property, and legacy. A thorough and well-researched if sometimes flowery saga of the Jefferson family.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Stephanie Dray is a bestselling and award-nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her work has been translated into six different languages, was nominated for RWA’s RITA Award, and won NJRW’s Golden Leaf. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.

Laura Kamoie has published two nonfiction books on early America and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books. 

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

America's First Daughter: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down, hated for it to end. This novel made the venerable Thomas Jefferson a real man of flesh, bone, strength , and weaknesses. I'm still processing my feelings about Patsy, who must've been formidable in her own right. A woman of great strength but also subject to the human condition. This is a book that won't be easily forgotten.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No words.....just read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never review books but this was completely compelling. If you are fascinated by our American history, this is a just read .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I bought this book I didn't realize it was nearly 600 pages! However, it was so interesting, engaging and well written I could not put it down. I wish I had read it before I visited Monticello a few years ago....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a person who loves history, this just about right blending of history and fiction was chance to immerse myself and take a walk with Patsy Jefferson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read Beautifully written story wrirt
Anonymous 10 hours ago
I was drawn in immediately. Beautifully written, immensely captivating. I feel like I know the Jefferson's personally for having read this book.
Anonymous 10 hours ago
MeganRath 4 days ago
Fantastic! I highly recommend this one!
Anonymous 5 days ago
I did not want this book to end!! Loved the charcters, loved learning about this great family . Great historical fiction. An excellent read
Anonymous 25 days ago
This was really an exploration of Patsy's identity first as Thomas Jefferson's daughter but also as a woman, mother, slave owner etc. The story recognizes the complexities of her identity as well as the role she needed to play for everyone in her life and for the country.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Our book club read this and everyone LOVED it. It was easy to read and kept me motived all throughout the book. We learned so much!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Absloutely loved this book !!
Anonymous 5 months ago
I had my book club read it. Fascinating!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Excellent. Best book I have read in a very long time! It is long, but worth it. Beautifully written!
Anonymous 10 months ago
Excellent writing. Highly recommed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to make myself read slowly so I wouldn't miss a thing. Patsy is such a great character!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Annie_PA More than 1 year ago
This Book is an Amazing ride back in time! If your like me and you love historical novels, you will be served! Get into the life of Martha Jefferson's life (daughter of Thomas Jefferson) and learn about her life of sacrifices in the name of her father and liberty! I really liked the historical accurencies and assumptions in the book that help you to understand why so many times she choosed her father's happiness over her own! A great well written story about a grand lady! A Must read for Historical lovers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MADreaderMD More than 1 year ago
This book provides a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at Thomas Jefferson and his extended family through the eyes of his daughter Patsy. While this is historical fiction, the story seems grounded in fact, and it was a believable account of what may have happened in the private moments of the Jefferson family. Along with being in the middle of some of the most important events of the foundation of the United States as a nation, Patsy and her family experienced more than their fair share of tragedy and scandal. Patsy may not have made what we consider the right choices in every situation, but she always had her father's best interests at heart. To preserve her father's legacy and to hold her family together, she was the pillar of strength they all leaned on. She often made the hard choices that no one else was willing to make. I was often in tears while reading the last half of the book, but I appreciated the many moments of humor, tenderness, intrigue, and action that were present throughout the book. I felt the whole book gave me a greater understanding of the man Thomas Jefferson was and how Patsy was at peace with how she had lived her life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WLNewcomb More than 1 year ago
Told from the point of view of Thomas Jefferson's daughter Martha Jefferson "Patsy" Randolph, this amazing novel turns Jefferson and his turbulent family into living, breathing human beings. It is not so much a novel to be read as an experience to be lived. Be prepared to adopt the Jeffersons and their kith and kin into your own mental family as you read this engrossing story. As a University of Virginia alumnus, student of Revolutionary War history, and adopted Virginian, I've felt a connection to Jefferson for decades. Reading AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER, I felt like I was getting to know old friends all over again. But every American - whether a Jefferson aficionado or not - deserves to know Patsy's story - the price she paid, the victories she achieved and heartbreak she endured to make possible what her father achieved while coming to terms with his deep contradictions. I always knew Jefferson the patriot, the author, the scientist, the diplomat, the President, the architect, the founder of The University, but didn't really know, in a visceral sense, until reading this how at the heart of all that was Jefferson the father, the father-in-law, the mentor, the grandfather. The sun at the center of his solar system was Patsy. Her influence and care and sacrifice allowed him to be a devoted patriarch to his extensive progeny as well as the country. Without her, he would've been a secondary figure in history, a cautionary tale of promise unfulfilled in a history that would've been quite different. And without her, life for the family he loved dearly - including those he never publicly acknowledged - could've unraveled, or at least taken a darker turn. The author's note makes clear that Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie did not overstate the impact of her influence. We owe a debt of gratitude to her, but make no mistake - this story puts Patsy on no pedestal, either. She is all too human, just like her icon of a father. Perhaps one of the most timeless things about this story is how it underscores that no one - not even Thomas Jefferson - is an island. Every person who accomplished great things - whether those accomplishments made history or a family or a marriage or a friendship or anything else - owes more than they can imagine to the loved ones who lifted them up when they faltered, who defended them at great cost, whose belief in them never wavered, whose love remained unconditional even at their darkest moments. A couple of notes on narrative craft: - This novel is a master class on structuring a clear narrative arc from a complicated, messy, convoluted life. One of the biggest challenges in historical fiction based on real people's lives is the daunting task of framing a real person's life in a coherent, suspenseful, traditional dramatic structure. Dray and Kamoie turn what could have been an episodic assortment of mini-stories into a character arc that, for all its twists and turns, follows a clear structure and culminates in a satisfying conclusion. - This is the first novel I've read that was the product of a collaboration. And it is seamless, a remarkable achievement especially in a novel with a single point of view. There is one voice, not two, and it is the consistent but evolving voice of a fully drawn character.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A many page saga that goes in depth into the life and times of Patsy Jefferson. Known to many as the woman of the White House during Thomas Jefferson's presidency, his oldest daughter helped him host the many guests to the historical home, but also was his most trusted advisor. I thought I knew more than just the basics about Patsy Jefferson and Thomas Jefferson, but after reading this book I realized that I only knew the basics. Yes, Patsy was beside him during the White House years, but she sacrificed so much beyond those years to be by his side and help him navigate all the political waters.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. I liked how the author made Thomas Jefferson and his daughter both human. I guess politicians are the same throughout the ages. Patsy Jefferson was quite a smart woman and that would have been a very hard thing to be during this century. I enjoyed this story.