Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Women Jefferson Loved
by Virginia Scharff

Thomas Jefferson always preferred to keep his public and private lives separate from peering eyes. His personal life is what has always intrigued the masses mostly because of Sally Hemmings. It seems to be split down the middle with those who believe that he was involved with her and those who do not even though there's credible evidence since he bore children with her.
The women close to him were: Jane Randolph, his mother; Martha, his wife; Sally Hemmings, his slave mistress; his daughters and granddaughters. Even though Jefferson loved the women so much in his family, he was still very traditional and believed that their purpose was to just be domestic and procreate. With the exception of Sally, they were all highly educated and cultured.
What I found interesting was that most of the women abhorred slavery yet without them they could not exist down to the most minutest details. They all intermingled with one another from morning to night. So, they were separated by race but they were related by blood.
At the beginning of the book, there's quite a large family tree which is confusing enough. At the end of the book, the names are grouped by specific families and it's even more mind-boggling.
Author, Virginia Scharff, writes in a very easygoing style and though I don't think it's "brilliantly written" as some reviewers believe, it's definitely palatable.
If you're a Jefferson fan, you would enjoy the read. As for me, not having known the history of what exactly transpired between Jefferson and Hemmings, those parts were fascinating. But there's way too much repetition and conjecture (this is what happens when a historian attempts to compile facts) which ruined it, I thought.
I sum the book up as being okay but nothing special.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage
by Sally Ryder Brady

Although there were many clues about Upton's sexuality from the time they met and all through their marriage, Sally Ryder either was in denial or was just plain stupid. She thought the world of this man even though he was an alcoholic, had a horrible temper, was a narcissist and was very controlling. Upton Brady became the director of Atlantic Monthly Press and the family lived in high style and most of it wasn't too happy.
After he died (forty-six years of marriage), Sally was SHOCKED to find gay pornography in his bureau. Her reaction is ridiculous since all of the signs were there. I probably should have stopped reading at this point because Sally was extremely irritating but I decided to continue and finish the book, which I did. She writes well and it does keep your interest.
The publisher says that it's a story of great love. Not exactly.
Read it, if you'd like, and see if you agree.