Monticello: A Daughter and Her Father; A Novel
In Sally Cabot Gunning’s Monticello, she explores the complex and often strained relationships of Martha Jefferson Randolph. Returning to Monticello after five years in Paris, Martha is thrust back into a world she doesn’t recognize. Soon after her return, she is married and quickly becomes a mother. It is the stunning realization of her father’s relationship with Sally Hemmings that begins to tilt her world on its axis. Further tragedy and scandal shake her to the core.
Gunning’s writing is well researched and her writing style is spot-on for historical fiction. The book does seem to get bogged down in details that seem trivial at best. Whether intended or not, Martha Jefferson Randolph comes across as spoiled and unlikable. Thomas Jefferson seems aloof and distant from anyone who tries to get close to him. Surprisingly, although the book is supposed to be about the relationship between Martha and Thomas, their interactions seem forced. Throughout the entire book, you see Martha try and ultimately fail to become everything to everyone.
Sally Cabot Gunning