A groundbreaking historical novel of MonticelloOne 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.
Reviews"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 BiographyBarbara 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.