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Topic: Anybody read Sally Hemmings by Barbara Chase Riboud?

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Subject: Anybody read Sally Hemmings by Barbara Chase Riboud?
Date Posted: 9/22/2008 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,476
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Just trying to decide if I want to order it.  If anyone has read it, I'd be curious if it was any good.  Thanks!

Date Posted: 9/23/2008 11:52 AM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2007
Posts: 112
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I started to read it, but didn't like it and gave up not too far into it.  IMHO, her portrayal of Sally Hemmings was much more like a woman of today than early 1800s and not believable.   I can post it to you if you like.

Date Posted: 9/23/2008 6:39 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I enjoyed this one. I think Riboud set out to show Sally as an strong, opinionated, intelligent woman, which I think Sally could have been, even though that was not the norm for a woman of her time and station. But, Sally herself was not the norm for her times. She spent time in Paris where she learned that black women could be free, she became used to having fine clothing, and I'm sure Paris is where she began to yearn for freedom, if not for herself, at least for her children.  Her family was always at the "top tier" of slaves in their households, and members of the Hemmings family were the only slaves Jefferson ever set free. Her children were either manumitted or allowed to run away with no search following their leaving. It's possible she may have even felt she had a bit of an upper-hand because her family was so enmeshed with his and he certainly didn't want that known publically. It's also possible that Jefferson cared for Sally. Knowing all of this, I didn't think Riboud's portrayal was all that far fetched, perhaps a bit romanticized. Of course, so much is unknown, but it was a good story, none the less. ;-)  Maybe Riboud should have added more background info about Hemmings family.

I haven't read the sequel, The President's Daughter.



Last Edited on: 9/23/08 6:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/23/2008 10:36 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,476
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Well, that gives me two completely different views :)  Now I'll have to flip a coin.  LOL

Thanks for your honest thoughts though.  I think I might order it.  I like what Valli had to say about it.

Date Posted: 9/24/2008 10:03 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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LOL, Melody! You'll have to read it and see! Kathy really is right though, Sally was not portrayed as an average woman of her time and station at all, and it's very possible that the story is romanticized and it's also very possible that I was reading it while wearing rose tinted glasses. Either way, I enjoyed the story. I have the second book here, and, now that we have been talking about Sally, I think I'll go ahead and read it. I'll report back here when I'm finished. ;-)