My Thomas by Roberta Grimes
A novel of Martha Jefferson's Life

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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.


About Roberta Grimes

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Published December 28, 2013 by Wheatmark Inc.. 392 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

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The issue of slave emancipation becomes a frequent theme through the years as naive Patty learns the bitter realities of the black experience from her temperamental but trusted handmaid, Betty, who was her late father's concubine and bore him many children (though she despised him for keeping her...

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Publishers Weekly

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Cast in the form of a diary written by Thomas Jefferson's wife, Martha, Grimes's first novel chronicles the years from their courtship in 1770 to her death in 1782.

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