As Independence Day nears, we are all reminded of our nation’s founding fathers, and the way they shaped our nation. These men have become icons, but they were just human beings, often quite complicated human beings, with wives, mistresses, and children (both legitimate and illegitimate).
Historical fiction can flesh out the characters we know from our history books and give us a look at what life may have been like in those tumultuous times. Here are five novels featuring the men who were there at our nation’s beginnings, and the women who were at their sides.
America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie. This carefully researched tale imagines the experiences of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Patsy, who while accompanying her father to Paris struggles with his past affair with a slave and falls in love with his protégé against a backdrop of a growing revolution.
Mount Vernon Love Story by Mary Higgins Clark. In researching George Washington’s life, Mary Higgins Clark was surprised to find the engaging man behind the pious legend. Her novel tells the story of a rare marriage between Washington and Martha Dandridge Custisand, and brings to life the human side of the man who became known as the father of our country.
Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard by Sally Cabot. This work of literary historical fiction that brings to life a little-known chapter of the American Revolution — the story of Benjamin Franklin and his bastard son, William (a steadfast loyalist), and the women who loved them both.
Patriot Hearts by Barbara Hambly. The triumphs and turmoil of early America are revealed through fictional portraits of four women–Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Sally Hemings, and Dolley Madison–who played key roles during four presidential administrations.
The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs. A tale inspired by the true romance between Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler traces Hamilton’s rise to one of America’s most unlikely heroes and Schuyler’s establishment of New York’s first orphanage.