Barbara Chase-Riboud President's Daughter

ISBN 13: 9780345389701

President's Daughter

3.73 avg rating
( 213 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780345389701: President's Daughter

"Barbara Chase-Riboud writes with a quill of eloquence that is indeed a sword, sounding with the spirituality of Toni Morrison and the passion of Charles Dickens."
--Elaine Brown
Author of A Taste of Power
Barbara Chase-Riboud made literary history with Sally Hemings, the controversial bestseller that told the story of the woman who was Thomas Jefferson's mistress, mother of his children, and the slave he would never set free. Now the provocative chronicle of Sally Hemings continues, in this rich, sweeping novel of Harriet Hemings, the beautiful and headstrong slave daughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.
Allowed to run away from Monticello as Jefferson had promised, Harriet passes for white in the stormy era leading up to the Civil War. And then Harriet receives, from an anonymous sender, her brother Madison Hemings' memoirs. Madison is living on the black side of the color line and Harriet realizes that someone in her circle, perhaps even her own husband, knows that she is indeed the president's daughter.
"Chase-Riboud's passion for history and her obsession with the contradictions of sex and race that underlay the founding of the union bring great richness to The President's Daughter."
--San Francisco Chronicle

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About the Author:

Barbara Chase-Riboud is an award-winning novelist and poet. Her bestselling historical novels include Echo of Lions, Hottentot Venus, Sally Hemings, and Valide.

From Kirkus Reviews:

With this so-so historical novel, Chase-Riboud (Echo of Lions, 1988, etc.) returns to the scene of her first work, Sally Hemings (not reviewed), to pick up the story of Harriet Hemings, the daughter of slave Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson promised Sally Hemings that their children, who were slaves at Monticello, would be allowed to ``stroll'' at 21--that is, their running away would be ignored but they would not officially be freed. When she reaches that age in 1822, Harriet Hemings is escorted to Philadelphia by an old friend of Jefferson's, changes her name to Harriet Petit, and begins passing as a white woman. The juicy premise delivers some insights into the nature and definition of race, but Chase-Riboud's clumsy use of history gives some sections the feeling of a virtual-reality game- -now you are watching Sojourner Truth give her famous ``Ain't I a Woman'' speech; now you are witnessing discussions about the Dred Scott case. Broader historical information is less intrusive, like Petit's close friendship with Charlotte Waverly, which eventually becomes a sexual relationship of the type that was common among middle-class women at the time. Although Petit narrates most of the time, she is interrupted intermittently by other characters- -including Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln--whose sections end with preachy proclamations. It is unclear exactly what these are meant to accomplish, since they use formal language to announce facts that certainly would not have been made public at the time. In any case, these voices are all less effective than Petit's. A scene in which she returns to Monticello after Jefferson's death and spies a list of slaves to be auctioned off--including her own mother entered at 50 dollars--is particularly chilling. Lacking literary finesse, but still powerful enough to tarnish the reputation of yet another dead white man. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Barbara Chase-Riboud
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