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Helen Bryan (London, UK) was born and raised in Virginia; her ancestors go back to the Revolution, when Martha Washington lived there. She is currently a barrister in London and a member of the Inner Temple.
"Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was at the center of attention her whole life; mistress of large plantations, married to two of the most influential and wealthy Virginians, and as Lady Washington, the General's wife and First Lady. Unfortunately, with only a few of her actual letters extant, much of what we know about Martha Washington is from inference. Bryan mines the whole spectrum of the social, economic, and political world in which Martha moved, and even analyzes a few skeletons in the closet, not the least being the mysterious death of Martha's brother-in-law, Mulatto Jack, a slave who had been designated to inherit the fortune that went to Martha's first husband. The book is one of the best treatments anywhere of the early Virginia aristocracy; indeed, this comes in for so much emphasis that one half of the book covers the period before 1775. The author touches lightly on Martha's sojourns with her husband during the military campaigns and as First Lady. Nevertheless, this book is a singular accomplishment, beautifully written and most enlightening about both Martha and George. Recommended for general and academic collections. Copyright 2002 American Library Association"
Twenty-Five Miles as the Crow Flies from Williamsburg.
"Joh Dandridge's Daughter".
A Young Matron and Her Family.
The Widow Custis.
George Washington, His Family and Friends.
A Twelfth Night Wedding.
Sudden Changes and Milestones.
"Mrs. Washington, a Warm Loyalist".
"I Doe My Dear Sister Most Religiously Wish There Was an End to the Matter".
"General Washington's Lady, an Example of Persistent Industry".
"A Dreary Kind of Place".
Middlebrook and Morristown.
"We Look Upon the Americans as Already at Our Feet".
A Long Time Going Home.
"Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree".
"The General Is Gone to New York".
"A State Prisoner".
"Duty and Inclination".
"Once More, Under Our Own Vine and Fig Tree".
"No More Trials to Pass Through".
A Culinary Lagniappe: Recipes from Martha Washington's Books of Cookery and Book of Sweetmeats.
Posted November 15, 2002
" WITHOUT MARTHA WASHINGTON, GEORGE , THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, MIGHT HAVE REMAINED AN OBSCURE EX-SOLDIER... A VERY FINE LIFE OF MARTHA WASHINGTON...SURELY THE FULLEST BIOGRAPHY OF MARTHA TO DATE, IT'S ALSO A COLORFUL AND EVOCATIVE HISTORY OF THE PERIOD. IT TRACES MARTHA'S RISE FROM PROVINCIAL OBSCURITY IN VIRGINIA TO BECOME THE MOST FAMOUS WOMAN IN 18TH CENTURY USA, YET NEVER SHIES FROM PORTRAYING THE UGLINESS AMIDST THE ROMANCE- THE PRESENCE OF DEATH AND DISEASE , THE DEPENDENCY ON THE SLAVE TRADE." 19TH JULY 2002Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 20, 2002
I had often wondered why so few books have been written about Martha Washington. While traveling through out Virginia and especially while visiting Mount Vernon, I was disappointed to find so very little information on her. I had even thought about reasearching and trying to write a book about our first "first lady" myself! This book is wonderfully written and gives great insight into Martha and George's life together. It paints a more realistic picture of the two. Neither of them were the saints or stuffy off-limits personalities that so many history books have portrayed them to be. They were flesh and blood human beings,with good and bad qualities. My hat is off to the author for such sterling research and captivating writing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 20, 2002
Why has nobody written about Martha Washington's role in history this way before? Most books on the Revolution feature men, but for anyone interested in American history , this book is the first I've read to see the Revolution from a female perspective. Besides Martha's story it covers a variety of subjects from slavery to the causes of the Revolution, and really illuminates the whole colonial period . Anyone interested in the history of the United States ouught to read it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2002
A stunning book! Helen Bryan has done for Martha Washington what David McCullough did for John Adams in this thoroughly researched and well written biography. She has brought a lawyer's skills to bear in analyzing a vast body of information and piecing together a compelling and lively book about one of the most deserving but least known characters in American history, as well as an altogether convincing picture of our country in its early days. The book is full of new, surprising and intriguing information. Bryan has clearly been at pains to track down: a possible murder plot, George Washington's alleged sons, a number of complicated wills which caused upheaval in the family, and especially some little known accounts of the Washingtons' relationship with their slaves. Further, Bryan airs Martha's family secrets, including Martha's part-African half-sister, historically invisible till now, and her mixed race great granddaughter who once owned the land now occupied by Arlington National Cemetery and who was the sister-in-law of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I couldn't put it down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.