Monticello: Daughter and Her Father by Sally Cabot Gunning
Monticello explores the relationship of our U.S. founding father, Thomas Jefferson and his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. Martha’s mother died when Martha was just entering her teenage years. Thomas Jefferson had his daughter accompany him to France on his first diplomatic mission. After 5 years they both return home. By then Martha has grown into a young woman and even had a suitor in Paris that her father didn’t find quite suitable.
Paris seemed to really help shape Martha and her opinions and she had come to disagree with slavery. While if Paris, she came to believe her father would free his slaves and then hire them to continue running Monticello but her never did. Also, when they arrive home she notices that her mother’s half sister and slave, Sally Hemings status has change in the household and no longer required to work.
Then Thomas Randolph enters the picture and sweeps Martha off her feet. As demands of adulthood and marriage take over, Martha endures pregnancy after pregnancy (she had 12 children) and her husband’s mismanagement of farms and money. He also starts to act more and more eradicate. Her sister, Maria also dies giving birth to her first child.
As rumors were surfacing of an affair between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Martha has suspicions of her own but seemed to try to ignore them. It is clear that Martha had a tight bind with her father and they influenced each other in different ways.
I loved the story between Thomas Jefferson and her father but all the hardships with her husband were hard to endure. It was a time when women could not divorce their husbands but I wanted to shake her and tell her to leave him. I knew she couldn’t but that the same problems kept up through their marriage and so that part became somewhat repetitive. That said, Sally Cabot Gunning treated her characters with sensitivity and a non-judgmental approach. Though this is a work of fiction, she did her research and let the characters tell the story. She certainly made Monticello a character as well. I really liked her approach and her writing. I highly recommend Monticello for those who love historical fiction and like to delve into the lives of people, like Thomas Jefferson, who helped shape our world.
I received the ebook version for my honest review.
About Sally Cabot Gunning
Sally Cabot Gunning lives with her husband in Brewster on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island and a lifelong resident of New England, she is active in the local historical society and creates tours that showcase the three-hundred-year history of her village. Gunning came to fiction writing at a young age, driven to it in desperation one rainy day when she ran out of books.
She later authored a popular mystery series set on Cape Cod, but when she began to weave the Cape’s rich history into her stories she found herself hooked; she turned her focus to digging out the back story to the history that we thought we knew but didn’t and giving it a human face. This resulted in four critically acclaimed historical novels: The Widow’s War, Bound, The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard, and coming in September 2016 MONTICELLO.