The President's Daughter

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Fifteen years ago Barbara Chase-Riboud made literary history when she published Sally Hemings to critical praise. Now Barbara Chase-Riboud is back with The President's Daughter, the provocative continuation of the irrefutable historical chronology of Sally Hemings - Thomas Jefferson's mistress, the mother of his children, and the slave he would never set free - even when the scandal nearly cost him the presidency. Epic in proportion, yet rendered in exquisite detail by a writer with the eye of a historian and the...
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The President's Daughter: A Novel

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Overview

Fifteen years ago Barbara Chase-Riboud made literary history when she published Sally Hemings to critical praise. Now Barbara Chase-Riboud is back with The President's Daughter, the provocative continuation of the irrefutable historical chronology of Sally Hemings - Thomas Jefferson's mistress, the mother of his children, and the slave he would never set free - even when the scandal nearly cost him the presidency. Epic in proportion, yet rendered in exquisite detail by a writer with the eye of a historian and the heart of a storyteller, The President's Daughter begins in 1822 and tells the story of Harriet Hemings, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings's beautiful and headstrong slave daughter. Harriet is allowed to run away from Monticello and pass for white, as Jefferson had promised Sally their children would be able to do. Harriet experiences the turbulent events leading up to the American Civil War and is eventually thrust into the very heart of the Battle of Gettysburg, where she becomes a kind of Philadelphian Scarlett O'Hara. As The President's Daughter draws to a close during the 1876 Centennial celebration in Philadelphia, Harriet receives an anonymous letter that contains the memoirs of her brother Madison Hemings - who is living his life on the black side of the color line. Harriet realizes that someone in her entourage, perhaps even her own husband, knows she is indeed the president's daughter.

Sequel to the bestseller Sally Hemings, this novel follows Harriet, beautiful and headstrong slave daughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, as she flees Monticello with her father's blessing. Plunged into the turbulent events precipitating the Civil War, and events that will change history, she emerges as a heroine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chase-Riboud's first novel, Sally Hemings, reignited an old, unresolved controversy: Did Thomas Jefferson carry on a decades-long affair and produce seven illegitimate children with his mulatto slave? The author's engaging new novel continues the Hemings saga by handing the reins of narration primarily to Harriet Hemings, Sally's daughter by the President. The story opens in 1822, on the eve of Harriet's 21st birthday, the day on which, her father has promised, she may leave Monticello and journey north to freedom. To Harriet, the child of a distant father and a remote mother, the choice between living as a slave and leading a life in which her white skin, red hair and green eyes will allow her to pass as white is no choice at all. No matter where she runs, however-New York, London, Paris, Florence-Harriet will end up feeling as if her life is nothing but a duplicitous lie. Chase-Riboud incorporates elements of both pulp (dark secrets, presidential intrigues, sex scenes) and higher-brow fiction (fearless discussions of complex issues such as slavery, war, skin color and gender equality), and she seamlessly joins the two. Like its prequel, this is lushly entertaining history-as-fiction, and just possibly fiction-as-history, that's going to raise eyebrows-and probably hackles as well. (Oct.)
Library Journal
On her 21st birthday, Harriet, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave and mistress, is allowed to run north and pass into white society. Although Harriet's physical characteristics allow her outward passage to occur without difficulty, the psychological divisions she suffers endure for her lifetime. Obsessed by her desire for Jefferson to acknowledge his slave children, tormented by fears that her husband could be prosecuted for miscegenation and her children sold into slavery, Harriet struggles with the same questions that tear apart the Union and plunge the country into civil war. The question of racial definition and identity personalized in Harriet's experiences and self-examination makes for compelling reading. This engrossing sequel to Sally Hemings (LJ 6/15/79) deftly weaves historical facts with fascinating fiction. For most fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/94.]-Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345389701
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/11/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Chase-Riboud
Barbara Chase-Riboud
Sculptor, painter, novelist, and poet Barbara Chase-Riboud has explored and illuminated the secrets of African-American history with her acclaimed, controversial novels, including Sally Hemings and The President's Daughter. With Hottentot Venus, she turns her attention to the true story of Sarah Baartman, a South African herdswoman shown off as a “scientific curiosity” in the capitals of 19th-century Europe.

Biography

Barbara Chase-Riboud is a Carl Sandburg Prize–winning poet and the prizewinning author of four acclaimed, widely translated historical novels, the bestselling Sally Hemings, Valide: A Novel of a Harem, Echo of Lions (about the Amistad mutiny), and The President's Daughter, a prequel to ,Sally Hemings. She is a winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and received a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government in 1996. Chase-Riboud is also a renowned sculptor whose award-winning monuments grace Lower Manhattan. She is the rare living artist honored with a personal exhibition, "The Monument Drawings," in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Born and raised in Philadelphia of Canadian American descent, she was educated at Yale University and is the recipient of numerous fellowships and honorary degrees. She divides her time between Paris, Rome, and the United States.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

Good To Know

Barbara Chase-Riboud v. DreamWorks Inc.: Chase-Riboud filed suit against DreamWorks SKG in 1988, claiming that "but for [her novel] Echo of Lions, there would be no Amistad movie." The lawsuit alleged copyright infringement, breach of implied contract and unfair competition, and sought $10 million in damages.

However, the judge ruled that while Chase-Riboud's case posed valid arguments for a civil trial, its success wasn't certain enough to justify holding a $75 million film from release. The suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum reported in the press as in excess of one million dollars on the eve of the Oscar nominations.

However, Chase-Ribound successfully proved that the play Dusky Sally by Granville Burgess infringed the copyrights to her historical novel Sally Hemings. The Sally Hemmings suit was won in court and resulted in a landmark copyright law protecting historical fiction and writers of historical fiction.

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    1. Hometown:
      Paris, France
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 26, 1939
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.F.A. from Temple University; M.A. in art and architecture from Yale University

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 29, 2011

    Loved it

    Absolutely loved the detail of characters and time as well as the drama of the whole story. Beautifully written. Recommend this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

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