Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Offering up a triple dose of historical fiction to ease those presidential debate blues

Without getting too political, I think it's safe to say that when it comes to the election cycle this year, truth is proving stranger than fiction on a daily basis(especially if you're fact checking). The big presidential debates alone come across more like Punch and Judy rather than Lincoln and Douglas there.

Fortunately, there's a way to take a well deserved break from the campaign trail while still keeping in touch with our national focus upon American history. This trio of historical fiction titles are all based in Founding Father territory and yet provide an entertaining look at those life and times. Call it educational escapism, if you will.

First up is America's First Daughter, which looks at Thomas Jefferson through the eyes of his oldest girl, Martha, best known by all as Patsy. At age 10, she took over the family household upon the death of her mother and became such a help to her father that she was also his valued companion in France, when he was commissioned to be America's envoy in Paris .

However, the reality of his failings grew even larger in scale for Patsy over time, including turning Sally Hemings into his mistress while still owning her as a slave. Eventually, she left his side to form her own family yet still maintained a loyal heart that wanted to preserve the legacy that Jefferson was able to leave behind. Co-written by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, the research that went into this novel is impressive, not to mention bringing an unsung heroine of history into the light:

Speaking of unsung, The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs offers a non-musical version of the romance between Alexander Hamilton and New York society darling Eliza Schuyler.

Hamilton had a tough enough time holding his own during the Revolution, due to his outsider status, without dealing with the intricacies of Eliza's family connections. Yet, it was her strength and determination that saw them both through the tough times ahead and even when faced with living life on her own, Eliza did great things that honored her beloved's hopes for the future.

While the musical take on Hamilton's life is beyond amazing, a novel like this goes into greater details that make the true story of Alexander and Eliza come to even more vivid life for us all:

For a look at some old school dirty dealings, Allison Pataki's The Traitor's Wife gives us quite the sinister spymistress in Peggy Shippen, the colonial belle of the ball who married Benedict Arnold.

As told by her maid Clara(a fictional creation), Peggy uses her wiles to not only manipulate her husband into being a double agent against George Washington, she also keeps up her secret romance with Major Andre, a former suitor and British recruiter of foreign agents.

Clara is torn between keeping Peggy's secrets and holding true to her own convictions, a duality that draws her more into a deadly spy game that she does not want to play for anyone. I fondly recall reading this last year and highly recommend it as a riveting read for those eager to engage with Revolutionary reading:

Hopefully, one or all of these books will make these last few weeks of election mania go by quicker and do take heart that we have only one big debate to go. Personally, I wish we had the likes of Paris Geller running that particular show as she refuses to suffer fools gladly and brings formidable knowledge as her best weapon into any verbal battle:

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