About Monticello• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 27, 2017)
From the critically acclaimed author of The Widow's War comes a captivating work of literary historical fiction that explores the tenuous relationship between a brilliant and complex father and his devoted daughter—Thomas Jefferson and Martha Jefferson Randolph.
After the death of her beloved mother, Martha Jefferson spent five years abroad with her father, Thomas Jefferson, on his first diplomatic mission to France. Now, at seventeen, Jefferson’s bright, handsome eldest daughter is returning to the lush hills of the family’s beloved Virginia plantation, Monticello. While the large, beautiful estate is the same as she remembers, Martha has changed. The young girl that sailed to Europe is now a woman with a heart made heavy by a first love gone wrong.
The world around her has also become far more complicated than it once seemed. The doting father she idolized since childhood has begun to pull away. Moving back into political life, he has become distracted by the tumultuous fight for power and troubling new attachments. The home she adores depends on slavery, a practice Martha abhors. But Monticello is burdened by debt, and it cannot survive without the labor of her family’s slaves. The exotic distant cousin she is drawn to has a taste for dangerous passions, dark desires that will eventually compromise her own.
As her life becomes constrained by the demands of marriage, motherhood, politics, scandal, and her family’s increasing impoverishment, Martha yearns to find her way back to the gentle beauty and quiet happiness of the world she once knew at the top of her father’s “little mountain.”
About Sally Cabot GunningA lifelong resident of New England, Sally Cabot Gunning has immersed herself in its history from a young age. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Satucket Novels—The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke—and, writing as Sally Cabot, the equally acclaimed Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard. She lives in Brewster, Massachusetts, with her husband, Tom.
Find out more about Sally at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I really do love an Historical fiction book, and this one sure delivered. We are thrown right into the lives of Martha and Thomas Jefferson, and all the juicy political craziness that abounds.
The story centers around Martha who is Jefferson's eldest daughter and their relationship upon the return from France where they spent a few years abroad. This is at a time when slavery was at it's peak, something that Martha really detested, and unfortunately their plantation depends on the use of slaves to ensure it's success.
Jefferson is completely immersed in his political career and therefore starts pulling away from his family, the one who feels it the most is Martha who was always so close to him. She is left to deal with a lot on her own, marriages and debt, the relationship between her family and the slave family Hemings who has a real twist in the story.
Much as I enjoyed reading it, it wasn't always a smooth read for me. It felt quite tedious at times, there was a lot of information, a lot of details and I often wanted to say "just get on with it". But that's because I was so interested in learning more and seeing what was to come. I think that is really the only negative thing I can say about it.
I learned a lot about the American Revolution, the Jefferson Family, the ties with the Hemings Slave Family and especially Martha who truth be told, I hadn't really heard much of until now.
I'm also pleased that Sally Cabot Gunning did the research and kept quite true to form in her storytelling, because as much as I enjoy History Fiction and novels, I do prefer when they stay close to the truth.