Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Historical Fiction vs. Fictionalized Biography: Monticello

I loved, loved, loved The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin.  Since then I have devoured as many fictionalized biographies as I can find.  I'm not sure what genre Monticello falls into (historical fiction? fictionalized biography?) but I absolutely loved every page.

Sally Cabot Gunning does a fantastic job of creating a book about Martha Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's oldest daughter, that spans her life from her return to America from France when she was seventeen until after her father's death.  

We get to know Martha as a young woman, a newly-wed, a mother, and as a woman who was able to successfully run her father's home.  In this book Martha was aware of her father's relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings, and the children they had together.  Although a work of fiction, I enjoyed the way Martha must make peace with Sally and her father and the feelings they have for each other.

I loved this book - the time period it is set in as our country is new and starting out, the intimate look at Thomas Jefferson's family including his children and grandchildren, and the legacy he left all drew me right in.  

I've been gushing about this book to friends since I picked it up and hope that Gunning finds more interesting historical figures to bring to life.

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