‘Monticello’ Leaves An Indelible Mark On American Literature [REVIEW]


Home isn’t what it used to be when Thomas Jefferson and his daughter, Martha, return to Virginia in Sally Cabot Gunning’s Monticello. (Photo by Robert Kocher, Flickr)

Being the child of a celebrity has never been easy. With so many demands upon the parent’s schedule, culling out time for a family is difficult at best. So what was it like to be the child of one of the most prominent and influential men in U.S. history? Find out in Sally Cabot Gunning’s enlightening new novel, Monticello. 

Sally Cabot Gunning's MONTICELLO

William Morrow

It is impossible to hear the name Thomas Jefferson without thinking of the words “founding father.” After all, as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, he quite literally helped shape the United States of America into the nation it is today. But have you ever considered just what kind of parent he was to his children? Gunning pulls back the curtain on this beloved historical figure and reveals a portrait of a man that wasn’t only a prominent politician, innovator, and diplomat, but also a widower, slave owner, and father.

Here we meet his eldest daughter, Martha Jefferson, who is 17 years old when she returns to Monticello, the family’s plantation home in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Five years after her departure to France, she is a different person at her homecoming. Now she is an educated woman, and the childhood home she so loves has been changed by circumstance and neglect. Most of all, however, her attitudes toward slavery have evolved during her time away, and her newfound strength changes her relationships with everyone around her. Independent, shrewd, and resilient, she must learn to navigate her relationship with her father as he returns to politics; face her abhorance of slavery; and build a life with her exotic distant cousin, Thomas Randolph. All the while, she becomes a wife and mother, the family’s fortune dwindles, and scandal and politics tighten their grip on her life, leaving her to cling to her dreams of Monticello as she once knew it so long ago.

This is a book that is as complex and beautiful as an aging tapestry, for it is languidly written, richly layered, and features thoughtful prose which will surely envelope and captivate readers as it lures them back into the annals of history. And yet the way Gunning writes, this doesn’t feel like a tediously boring lesson in American History 101, but rather is a thoroughly absorbing saga about a young woman thrust into adulthood who must learn to discover where she fits in, how she can connect with those she loves on a deeper level, and when she can utilize her superior intellect to help change the world. Whether you’re a history buff or simply love a good family drama, Monticello is sure to offer you many hours of reading enjoyment, all while elevating your knowledge of America’s past and the people who left their indelible mark on our nation. Monticello is historical fiction at its best!

Sally Cabot Gunning

Sally Cabot Gunning
(Photo by Jack Tower)


A lifelong resident of New England, Sally Cabot Gunning has immersed herself in its history from a young age.

She is the author of the critically acclaimed Satucket novels—The Widow’s WarBound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarkeand, writing as Sally Cabot, the equally acclaimed Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard.

She lives in Brewster, Massachusetts with her husband, Tom. Visit her home on the Web at SallyCabotGunning.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.

By Sally Cabot Gunning
384 pgs. William Morrow. $15.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostYou may purchase Monticello at one of these fine online retailers: HarperCollins, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Monticello is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.


Congratulations to Darcy Hayes who won a copy of Sally Cabot Gunning’s Monticello. Although this giveaway is over, stay tuned for more great contests coming soon.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to ‘Monticello’ Leaves An Indelible Mark On American Literature [REVIEW]

  1. trish says:

    I love books that feature strong women! Martha Jefferson sounds like a fascinating person.

    Thank you for being on this tour!

  2. I love that this book is so engaging and interesting while also being full of historical detail. This is my kind of read!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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