My Thomas - A Novel of Martha Jefferson's Life

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My Thomas - A Novel of Martha Jefferson's Life

The Letters From Love Series, Starter

“My Thomas” by Roberta Grimes was a book I picked up hesitantly. I read a lot of historical fiction, so I have pretty high expectations sometimes of what I expect from a good book. The description of this book made it sound like it would be a little hokey but I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be a novel that really brought Martha and Thomas Jefferson’s relationship alive, and gave me a new appreciation for the Thomas Jefferson.

Using journal entries to tell the story was a good way to keep the focus on Martha and what she found important, which gave a new viewpoint to the American Revolution. I was especially fascinated by Thomas Jefferson’s take on slavery and his thoughts on how to end it, and if blacks and whites could ever have a working relationship on equals. It’s important to remember that when looking back, how much has changed, including thoughts on equality and basic human rights. Before picking up this book I was one of those who believed the arguments about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, but now I’m much more doubtful. I plan on reading more about Thomas Jefferson to try to make up my mind. This book is a wonderful treat for fans of American history.

Roberta Grimes’ novel “My Thomas” is a look at the American Revolution and one of its most important founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, as told through his courtship and marriage to Martha Skelton. Her journal entries cover the decade of 1772 to 1782, the integral time period of America’s struggle against England. Martha’s relationship with her family slaves also plays a role in Martha and Thomas’ viewpoints on slavery with Martha’s death playing a pivotal role in changing the future of America. This is a definite must read for anyone who is a fan of historical fiction or wants to learn more about the man behind the Constitution and many of the freedoms we now take for granted.

Book Blurb for My Thomas - A Novel of Martha Jefferson's Life

The world is full of evils. I cannot bear to hear the stuck hogs squeal, nor see a horse ill-used, nor think there could be anywhere an unloved child. The differences in human station seem to me not even the greatest evil. 

When Martha Skelton finds herself falling in love with a shy young burgess named Thomas Jefferson, it feels like an inconvenience. Widowed at twenty-two, Martha has no desire to lose the independence she has gained in the wake of her husband's death. But she cannot deny her feelings indefinitely. Despite her intentions, her friendship with Thomas develops into an intense and all-consuming love. 

History casts a shadow on Martha's newfound joy. Through her father's slave and mistress, Betty Hemings, she comes to understand the true nature of slavery, an institution she has always taken for granted. As Betty's revelations tear down the walls of her ignorance, Martha begins to work with her husband to end the despicable practice forever. 

This story is essentially true. Thomas Jefferson was such an obsessive record-keeper that we know what he was doing nearly every day of his adult life, and all the public things he is quoted as saying in My Thomas come from his contemporary writings. Martha's marriage to Thomas spanned the decade from 1772 to 1782, so it put her at the center of the audacious grab at freedom that was the American Revolution. Jefferson's writings suggest that if he had not been widowed, he would have retired from politics following the war and devoted himself to finding a way to end slavery that could have truly and forever healed the separations between the races. It is hard to read Martha's story now and not think about what might have been.

Letters from Love is a seven-novel saga that tells five fresh and engaging love stories. Spanning almost five hundred years, the series will give you a new appreciation for your own glorious potential.

Night Owl Reviews May, 2014 4.50