Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Patriot Hearts; A Novel of the Founding Mothers by Barbara Hambly

Yes! I finally got a book read with my SIL in from out of state and camping and swimming and everything.

So anyway. The author shows the interconnectedness of four women; Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Sally Hemings, and Dolley Madison. Sally is probably the most fictional character. How much could you find when researching the possible slave/concubine of Thomas Jefferson, after all? Spanning the years of the Revolutionary war and the second war with the British in the early 1800's, there are constant flashbacks and flashforwards. It starts with Dolley Madison wondering when her husband will return to the White House ahead of the British army. As she goes through the collected memoribilia of four presidents' wives, wondering which to leave behind and which to take with her, she remembers the circumstances in which she met them. Not only does the author draw a moving story of how the women dealt with war, revolution, separation of family, and politics, but she tugged at the guilt that women feel when torn between the interests of their children and the duties of their husbands. It makes one wonder how any president's wife copes with the office.

I don't really like going back and forth in time frequently in my reading. It's like watching a badly scratched DVD; too many skips and it's hard to see the whole picture clearly. However, with so much time to cover and four families to track, it would be a difficult job in any case. Good historical fiction overall.

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