March 5, 2016

America's First Daughter Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

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I am absolutely thrilled to bring you the Blog Tour for Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie’s AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER, a historical fiction novel is published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, and releasing March 1, 2016! 

AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER is a compelling, richly researched novel by bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. Drawing from thousands of letters and original sources, the authors reveal the fascinating, untold story of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter. Patsy was one of the most influential women in American history: not only the progeny of a founding father – and the woman who held his secrets close to her heart – but a key player in the shaping of our nation’s legacy. And her story is one seldom told, until now. Make sure you grab your copy today!

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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.  

Looking at Jefferson as a Father
By Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

We are absolutely thrilled to be celebrating the release of our new book, America’s First Daughter, which portrays the relationship between Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph and her famous father, Thomas Jefferson, and explores the sacrifices Patsy made and the lies she told to protect him, his legacy, and the new nation he founded.

So much has been written about Thomas Jefferson that it’s difficult to find an uncovered topic or an angle that has yet to be analyzed. One night, we were discussing exactly that when we realized there was perhaps one exception—his eldest daughter Patsy. A quick search revealed that very little had been written about her (a year into our research on the novel, a biography by historian Cynthia Kierner released, Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times—one of the only modern scholarly works devoted to Patsy). The more we thought about Patsy, the more interesting she became, both as a person in her own right and for the unique perspective she would be able to offer on her famous—and some say, enigmatic—father.

As his eldest daughter and lifelong companion, Patsy had the ability to offer a unique perspective on her father, the man who authored the Declaration of Independence, served as ambassador to France, was elected as the United States’s third president, created a political party that defined the first three decades of the nineteenth century, founded one of America’s premiere universities, and whose words and actions on the institution of slavery contributed to a political and racial legacy that continues to play out in American culture today. Looking at the president through his daughter’s eyes had the power to humanize him and to make him relatable, and that seemed like another unique contribution this book could make.

We didn’t realize this when we started, but as we wrote, we realized that writing from Patsy’s perspective often highlighted Jefferson’s flaws. He was the father whose grief over his wife’s death was so great that he didn’t—or couldn’t—see his little children’s emotional needs even as he tended to their physical needs. He was the father who left his young daughter in a boarding house in Philadelphia while he attended to government work in Annapolis, his only contact for six months scolding letters that bid her to do her studies better. He was the father who withdrew Patsy from convent school after she’d shared a desire to take her vows.

But writing about Jefferson is always complicated, and writing from Patsy’s perspective showed that, too. Because looking at him as a father also showed him to be a man who was fiercely protective of and affectionate toward his children and grandchildren. He was the father who personally saw to his kids’ inoculation against smallpox and nursed them through their childhood illnesses. The father who assured for both his daughters the finest education. He was the generous father-in-law who provided for Patsy’s husband and doted upon their numerous children despite his own financial problems. He was the seventy-five-year-old man who mounted his horse and rode out into a nighttime storm to save his grandson who’d been attacked in a tavern.

And, of course, writing about Jefferson as a father and a grandfather meant that we had to look at all the ways he fit into those roles, and that meant looking at the woman with whom he carried on a thirty-five-year-long relationship, Sally Hemings, an enslaved member of his household and his dead wife’s half-sister. Very little source material survives about her, and none by her, so we followed the interpretation of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and most historians which believes that the weight of the historical evidence—including DNA testing—supports that Jefferson fathered the children of Sally Hemings. Children who, in some cases, reportedly resembled Jefferson quite a lot. Children he never publicly recognized. Children he freed or allowed to go free without trying to reclaim them. Beverly (a man) and Harriet were noted in an 1822 roster as having run away, which they did with Jefferson’s permission and funding, while Madison and Eston were freed in Jefferson’s will in 1826. A short time after Jefferson died, Sally left Monticello and by 1833 was listed as a free woman of color in a special census. In Patsy’s 1834 will, she gave Sally “her time,” a way of recognizing liberty within a local community without forcing removal from the state (as an 1806 law mandated for all free blacks), all of which was likely based on verbal agreements before Jefferson died (source). And all of which further complicates Jefferson as a father.

What emerged as we did our research was a loyal and caring family which celebrated triumphs, weathered numerous trials, and committed its fair share of sins. The Jeffersons’ stories are quintessentially American stories, in ways both good and bad, both positive and negative. In America’s First Daughter, we tried to do justice to both.

Do you have a question about Patsy and Jefferson’s relationship? Or about Jefferson as a father?

Thanks for reading,
Stephanie and Laura

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Author pic- Stephanie DraySTEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW's Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women's fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation's capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.

Website |Newsletter | Facebook |Twitter | AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER Website

Author Pic - Laura KamoieLaura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction 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 as the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Website |Newsletter | Facebook |Twitter | AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER Website

Blog Tour Schedule:

February 29th
What Is That Book About – Guest Post
Only One More Page – Review
A Fortress of Books – Excerpt

March 1st
Talking Books Blog – Excerpt
Smexy & Fabulous – Excerpt

March 2nd
Roxy's Reviews – Excerpt
Brooke Blogs – Excerpt

March 3rd
E-Reading After Midnight – Guest Post
Small Review – Guest Post

March 4th – Review

March 5th
A Dream Within A Dream – Guest Post
Chick with Books – Review
Vagabonda Reads – Review

March 6th
I Read Indie – Excerpt

March 7th
No BS Book Reviews – Interview
Words with Sarah – Review

March 8th
The Maiden's Court – Review
Unabridged Chick – Review
The Book Cellar – Interview
Becky on Books – Review

March 9th
Sofia Loves Books – Review
One Book At A Time – Review

March 10th
A Bookish Affair - Interview
Curled Up and Cozy – Review

March 11th
Book Talk – Review
JB's Book Obsession – Excerpt
Genre Queen – Review

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