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President's Daughter: A Novel (Rediscovered Classics)

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From the bestselling author of Sally Hemings, this is the story of the intelligent and beautiful illegitimate daughter of Thomas Jefferson and the slave who was his mistress. When she turns 21, Harriet Hemings, with her milky white skin and flowing red hair, leaves Monticello to "pass" into Philadelphia society as an orphan. From the bestselling author of Sally Hemings, this is the story of the intelligent and beautiful illegitimate daughter of Thomas Jefferson and the slave who was his mistress. When she turns 21, Harriet Hemings, with her milky white skin and flowing red hair, leaves Monticello to "pass" into Philadelphia society as an orphan.


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From the bestselling author of Sally Hemings, this is the story of the intelligent and beautiful illegitimate daughter of Thomas Jefferson and the slave who was his mistress. When she turns 21, Harriet Hemings, with her milky white skin and flowing red hair, leaves Monticello to "pass" into Philadelphia society as an orphan. From the bestselling author of Sally Hemings, this is the story of the intelligent and beautiful illegitimate daughter of Thomas Jefferson and the slave who was his mistress. When she turns 21, Harriet Hemings, with her milky white skin and flowing red hair, leaves Monticello to "pass" into Philadelphia society as an orphan.

30 review for President's Daughter: A Novel (Rediscovered Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    This is an epic fictional account of the life of Harriet Hemmings, illegitimate daughter of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave/wife Sally Hemmings. Though we know that the real harriet Hemings lived as a white woman, we have no record of what her life was truly like. This book is more about exploring the historical and emotional implications of slavery on individuals and families then a realistic, or even possible, account of one woman's life. The story is meant to be sweeping, but it tend This is an epic fictional account of the life of Harriet Hemmings, illegitimate daughter of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave/wife Sally Hemmings. Though we know that the real harriet Hemings lived as a white woman, we have no record of what her life was truly like. This book is more about exploring the historical and emotional implications of slavery on individuals and families then a realistic, or even possible, account of one woman's life. The story is meant to be sweeping, but it tends to go over the top into mellow drama at times, especially when dealing with the main character's romantic life. There is a great deal to think about, though readers with a limited tolerance for contemplation and wallowing in overwhelming emotion may want to give it a miss. Additionally, the author tries to make many connections, and some of them don't make a great deal of sense to me. I can't decide whether this book is more magnificent or flawed.3.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    During the time of slavery in the U.S., many slave owners had slaves as mistresses. The men who had such arrangements were men of wealth and power. Former President Thomas Jefferson was one of those men. Harriet Hemings was one of the bastard children of Thomas Jefferson and his slave/lover Sally Hemings. This novel follows Harriet through her life as a black woman "passing" as a white woman in colonial Philadelphia. The story begins on her 21st birthday on the night she is to escape to Philadel During the time of slavery in the U.S., many slave owners had slaves as mistresses. The men who had such arrangements were men of wealth and power. Former President Thomas Jefferson was one of those men. Harriet Hemings was one of the bastard children of Thomas Jefferson and his slave/lover Sally Hemings. This novel follows Harriet through her life as a black woman "passing" as a white woman in colonial Philadelphia. The story begins on her 21st birthday on the night she is to escape to Philadelphia and begin life as a white woman. It's a good thing she gets her pale skin, red hair, and green eyes from her father. Harriet deals with the turmoil of leaving her family behind in Virginia, dealing with racist white people while pretending to be white, and trying to find a place to fit in. As a white woman, she gets an education, travels to Europe and even finds love. The problem is that she isn't white. This book was a good read. I have always been fascinates by the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings story. The author created a great setting and kept you wanting to see what would happen next. I did think that the civil war part was a bit drawn out and (perhaps) could have been shortened. But, despite that, history buffs would love this story with all of its colonial splendor. The best part was all of the Philadelphia area references that were in the book. It even mentioned Lucretia Mott a local historical legend in Cheltenham township (where I live).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura Byrd

    After reading the jacket of this book I thought this was going to be more historical of Harriet Hemings life. Where we know Harriet was participating in This Event and the author will fictionally portray that moment. I was disappointed that nearly 99% of what was written was fictional. Basically after knowing that Harriet leaves Monticello everything else is fiction. Her life, her family, everything. While I appreciate the history of the abolitionist movement and the Civil War, our main characte After reading the jacket of this book I thought this was going to be more historical of Harriet Hemings life. Where we know Harriet was participating in This Event and the author will fictionally portray that moment. I was disappointed that nearly 99% of what was written was fictional. Basically after knowing that Harriet leaves Monticello everything else is fiction. Her life, her family, everything. While I appreciate the history of the abolitionist movement and the Civil War, our main character may never have been involved in any of these moments in American History. I feel that this book was poorly marketed. Also, on a stylistic note: The book is mostly from Harriet Hemings point of view and first person but there are chapters from other points of view that throw off the continuity of this novel.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    I was very disappointed when I have read this book, as I like a lot the previous book of Barbara Chase Riboud: Sally Hemings. The president's daughter lacks of charm and mystery.I didn't like the style of writing. The author quotes to many times Sally Hemings and the character of Harriet doesn't seem real. I've found the love life of Harriet very boring, and the ending quite bad. I almost stopped reading halfway as I found this book boring. I was very disappointed when I have read this book, as I like a lot the previous book of Barbara Chase Riboud: Sally Hemings. The president's daughter lacks of charm and mystery.I didn't like the style of writing. The author quotes to many times Sally Hemings and the character of Harriet doesn't seem real. I've found the love life of Harriet very boring, and the ending quite bad. I almost stopped reading halfway as I found this book boring.

  5. 4 out of 5

    skketch

    ****NOVEL THOUGHTS**** I will say this, I was glad to be finished reading this book. While I thought it had some interesting historical facts and scenes, I found it boring and redundant for 467 pages. The writing was intelligent and demanding but didn’t flow as I had hoped it might. The author did some interesting things by including letters from various characters to each other, quotes from Thomas Jefferson to begin each new chapter and affidavits by various characters to, I think, provide a com ****NOVEL THOUGHTS**** I will say this, I was glad to be finished reading this book. While I thought it had some interesting historical facts and scenes, I found it boring and redundant for 467 pages. The writing was intelligent and demanding but didn’t flow as I had hoped it might. The author did some interesting things by including letters from various characters to each other, quotes from Thomas Jefferson to begin each new chapter and affidavits by various characters to, I think, provide a composite of facts and state of mind of each. There was a lot of time spent on Harriett Hemings’ soul searching as she struggled with “passing” and living on “that side of the color line”, the feeling of lying to her family and husbands about her “colored” past. Until the initiation of the Emancipation Proclamation, she never felt comfortable in her life, paranoid that someone from her past would turn her in and humiliate her family. She spent most of her life in this book philosophizing and coming to terms with the desperation of needing love and acceptance from her white father, Thomas Jefferson. It was clear she loved her mother dearly as she loved her brothers and sisters but she also loved her father and found his cold shoulder at “claiming” them, harsh. Her brothers reacted with anger, she seemed to react with an inability to truly give herself 100% to anyone. She also seemed to struggle with doubt that she was worthy of anyone’s love. The way the author dealt with Harriett’s love life was colorless and bland. Her husbands seemed like puppies, expressing their undying love and she was like “meh, whatever.” Chase-Riboud did capture well the atrocities of the Civil War though in the gruesome descriptions of death, dying and countryside. More could have been done in my opinion about her role in the Abolitionist Movement in Europe as well as in the US. It just dragged and dragged… and then, she was home again in Virginia, and has a mental breakdown and hallucinations which somehow leads to someone knowing about who she really is and confronts her with it on her 75th birthday. It just seemed so out of place and unnecessary. The author tries to weave facts with fiction and tries to get into the mind of a slave who can “pass” in pre-Civil War. Personally, I would just pass on the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bache Brewer

    This thoroughly engaging book imagines the life of Harriet Hemings, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave and mistress. Harriet was born a slave but is allowed by her owner/father to run away from Monticello and pass for white when she is of age. She lives a full and meaningful life as a wife, mother of 7, an abolitionist and woman of means in Philadelphia society but is haunted by her secret and what she considers to be a betrayal of her race.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather Abenti

    I enjoyed the early parts of this book and the fictional story, particularly because my maternal family has traced its own linage to Thomas Jefferson. However the later chapters and constant switching of narrator became bogged down and in the end it was a struggle to finish the last section. It was an okay book but not a great book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I enjoyed this story but I thought it was very repetitive in spots. I enjoyed the Sally Hemings novel much more, but this book is worth the read there are just some parts with over descriptions the reader can skim over.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A very long read - often hard to discern what is history and what is fiction. Worth the time, though.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Helene Coorsh

    Great story, well-researched. However, the narrative is totally created by the author. It is very wordy and overly descriptive in parts, difficult to read at times.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sherri Scoffield

    Interesting "fiction". Life is often messy and complicated, and politics are always messy. Much to contemplate. Interesting "fiction". Life is often messy and complicated, and politics are always messy. Much to contemplate.

  12. 4 out of 5

    I Be Reading

    I didn't love this book quite as much as "Hottentot Venus" or "Sally Hemings", but I still found it very enjoyable. Barbara Chase-Riboud is incredible at writing from other people's point of view. Reading the imaginary thoughts of historical figures like Maria Cosway, Aaron Burr, members of the Hemings family, and Thomas Jefferson was very intriguing. She does this frequently in her stories and it was one of the most enjoyable things about this novel and all her others, in my opinion. Finally, I I didn't love this book quite as much as "Hottentot Venus" or "Sally Hemings", but I still found it very enjoyable. Barbara Chase-Riboud is incredible at writing from other people's point of view. Reading the imaginary thoughts of historical figures like Maria Cosway, Aaron Burr, members of the Hemings family, and Thomas Jefferson was very intriguing. She does this frequently in her stories and it was one of the most enjoyable things about this novel and all her others, in my opinion. Finally, I thought the life story she created for Harriet Hemings was unique and wasn't what I expected. I expected to read about her being ashamed of her family, race, etc. but there honestly was none of that. Passing was complicated and likely not as easy a choice as people think it was. Chase-Riboud did a great job with highlighting the day to day anxiety, guilt and fear that surely plagues people who conceal who they are everyday. The only thing I wasn't fond of is that sometimes Chase-Riboud gets really wordy and descriptive and I'm not a fan of that. But overall, I loved it. Definitely recommend for people interested in historical fiction, Thomas Jefferson, the Civil War, etc.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Josie

    I really wanted to just get to the story but there was just so many details of everything being described. I skipped over entire pages dedicated to describing eyes, hands, lockets, trunks, coats... Half of this book is filled with quotes from Chase-Ribound's other book "Sally Hemings". I feel like I should mark that book as being twice read. That book also spends a lot of time describing eyes and other needless things. Plus, many things were historically inaccurate and I found that distracting. I I really wanted to just get to the story but there was just so many details of everything being described. I skipped over entire pages dedicated to describing eyes, hands, lockets, trunks, coats... Half of this book is filled with quotes from Chase-Ribound's other book "Sally Hemings". I feel like I should mark that book as being twice read. That book also spends a lot of time describing eyes and other needless things. Plus, many things were historically inaccurate and I found that distracting. If the book were good, it would not have bothered me a bit. I just can take boring and wrong at the same time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dee Halzack

    Very interesting. The daughter in question is the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and his "slave wife" Sally Hemings, who "passed" for white. Heartbreaking to hear her tell of being present during very bigoted conversations and not being able to stand up to the racists. Gutwrenching to hear her tell of people speaking with outright hatred toward people they didn't even know and knowing that they'd apply that to her "if they only knew." Very interesting. The daughter in question is the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and his "slave wife" Sally Hemings, who "passed" for white. Heartbreaking to hear her tell of being present during very bigoted conversations and not being able to stand up to the racists. Gutwrenching to hear her tell of people speaking with outright hatred toward people they didn't even know and knowing that they'd apply that to her "if they only knew."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Enjoyed greatly. Although historical fiction many facts and ideas brought forth that went right over my head many years ago when studing these time periods in histroy Now I want to learn more about certain times and thoughts and feelings during this time period Also history does repeat itself, just different situations.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle "Champ"

    I seriously couldn't put this book down. It was superb! The daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings will lead a life that she never thought she could. I have NO idea how much of this story is based on fact as I have never studied the children. What I do know is that this probably did happen to someone and that will anger you I seriously couldn't put this book down. It was superb! The daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings will lead a life that she never thought she could. I have NO idea how much of this story is based on fact as I have never studied the children. What I do know is that this probably did happen to someone and that will anger you

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Fictionalized account of the president's daughter, born a slave. She leaves home and passes as white in a new society. The author probably took a lot more liberties with this account than the Sally Hemings books, but it was still well written and fun to read. Fictionalized account of the president's daughter, born a slave. She leaves home and passes as white in a new society. The author probably took a lot more liberties with this account than the Sally Hemings books, but it was still well written and fun to read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    ShareStories

    Fascinating book. Barbara Chase-Riboud puts Jefferson's daughter by his slave, Sally Hemmings, in touch with just about every famous abolitionist figure in America around the time of the Civil War. Fascinating book. Barbara Chase-Riboud puts Jefferson's daughter by his slave, Sally Hemmings, in touch with just about every famous abolitionist figure in America around the time of the Civil War.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Loved the book that preceded this, but found this one to be annoying in that it repeated much of the story from the first book, I assume for those readers who didn't read it. While I was very interested in the plot, the book just didn't live up to my expectations. Loved the book that preceded this, but found this one to be annoying in that it repeated much of the story from the first book, I assume for those readers who didn't read it. While I was very interested in the plot, the book just didn't live up to my expectations.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa James

    Just as fascinating as her mother's story, this is the story of Harriet Hemings, as imagined by the author. Harriet was not freed by her father, but basically was told, if she's white enough to pass, then let her be white, by him. he sent her to Philadelphia & there she disappears. Just as fascinating as her mother's story, this is the story of Harriet Hemings, as imagined by the author. Harriet was not freed by her father, but basically was told, if she's white enough to pass, then let her be white, by him. he sent her to Philadelphia & there she disappears.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hilariapdx

    I love this book but it's so damned tragic that my own writing was taking on a depressing tone. I love this book but it's so damned tragic that my own writing was taking on a depressing tone.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    ha i had the wrong presdent's daughter book in my goodreads. this is the one i am reading. ha i had the wrong presdent's daughter book in my goodreads. this is the one i am reading.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Spencer

    EXCELLENT! Historical sequel to Sally Hemmings.

  24. 4 out of 5

    G Gadus

    A great follow-up to "Sally Hemings." Perhaps a bit too long and repetitive but a worthy tome. A great follow-up to "Sally Hemings." Perhaps a bit too long and repetitive but a worthy tome.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I finally after only 40 or so pages to go to the end, putting this book down. I just can't do it. I finally after only 40 or so pages to go to the end, putting this book down. I just can't do it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    continuation of the story begun in Sally Hemmings

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen Hogan

    Sequel to Sally Hemings, about the illegitimate daughter of Thomas Jefferson. Started to drag at the end.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lyndsey

    picked up this book at a local resale shop:). so far a good read! very interesting story of one of President Jefferson's mulatto daughters who is freed to live as a white woman by her father. picked up this book at a local resale shop:). so far a good read! very interesting story of one of President Jefferson's mulatto daughters who is freed to live as a white woman by her father.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mix

    Wonderfully written historical fiction depicting the life of one of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings daughters.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angelamckee

    does every story have to involve homosexuality these days? I didn't finish this book does every story have to involve homosexuality these days? I didn't finish this book

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