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Sally Hemings
Sally Hemings

Sally Hemings

A Novel

Rediscovered Classics


384 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB, Mobipocket, PDF

Trade Paper, $19.99 (US $19.99) (CA $26.99)

Publication Date: April 2009

ISBN 9781556529450

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Apr 2009)


eBook Editions Available

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Price: $19.99


A groundbreaking historical novel of Monticello

One of the greatest love stories in American history is also one of the most controversial. Thomas Jefferson had a mistress for 38 years whom he loved and lived with until he died—the beautiful and elusive Sally Hemings. But it was not simply that Jefferson had a mistress that provoked such a scandal in both his time and ours. It was that Sally Hemings was a quadroon slave and that Jefferson fathered a slave family whose descendants are alive today. In this moving novel, originally published in 1979 and having sold over two million copies worldwide, Barbara Chase-Riboud re-creates one of America’s most powerful love stories, based on the documents and evidence of the day, and gives us a poignant, tragic, and unforgettable meditation on the history of race and sex in America.


"The relationship must have been much as the author depicts it in this fine first novel: a mixture of love and hate, of tenderness and cruelty and of freedom and bondage. The book is well researched, well written, insightful, and entertaining. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal

“[An] extremely affecting and poetic first novel. Even if historical fact and careful supposition were not the story’s basis, the Jefferson-Hemings relationship the novelist has imagined would be unforgettable.” —The New Republic

“A bold undertaking. The portrait of Jefferson is brilliantly imagined.” —Larry McMurtry, New York Magazine

“Chase-Riboud, an unusually gifted writer, has taken a stunning historical idea and made it sing with life. The characters and settings–the Hemings family and the Jefferson of Paris and Monticello–are vivid. Sally Hemings is a beautiful novel: the writing is eloquent, the story haunting.” —Grand Rapids Press

“Haunting . . . powerful and touching.” —The Denver Post

“Her novelistic abilities are impressive: she writes with grace and force, has an eye for detail and an ear for dialogue, a sense of scene and a capacity to create believable and interesting characters . . . Intelligently, even brilliantly imagined.” - The New Yorker

“Exquisitely crafted . . . a sensitive life study of a truly exceptional woman: complex, courageous, irresistibly attractive.” —Cosmopolitan

“The Thomas Jefferson–Sally Hemings legend is as deeply embedded in American mythology as John Henry. Barbara Chase-Riboud has captured all of the power, pain and ironic beauty which make the legend persist. It is a very moving and human novel.” —Nathan Huggins, author of Black Odyssey

Author Biography

Barbara Chase-Riboud is an acclaimed African-American novelist, poet, and sculptor. Her bestselling historical novels include Echo of Lions, Hottentot Venus, The President’s Daughter, and Valide.