Reading Guide

1.    Is Martha Jefferson Randolph someone you admire or pity or both? What were her strengths and weaknesses? Explore this same question in regard to Thomas Jefferson.

2.    If you were Martha Jefferson, living in her day and time, what would you have done the same and what differently?  Explore this same question in regard to Thomas Jefferson.

3.    Has this book changed your view of any of the Jeffersons or Randolphs?  If so, how?

4.    Do you think Jefferson’s plan to emancipate and expatriate the slaves would have worked? What do you see as right and wrong in this plan? If you were an emancipated slave, born in America, would have wished to stay or leave?

5.    Do you admire or pity Sally Hemings or both? If you were she, would you have made the same or different choices? 

6.    Do you feel that Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings diminishes him?  Does it diminish her?

7.    What do you think of Martha’s feelings about Sally? 

8.    Is William Short a positive or negative influence in Martha’s life?  It is known that they stayed in touch in their later years, but the nature and extent of the relationship is unknown. What would you imagine this relationship to be?

9.    What do you wish the historical figures in this novel had done differently?  How do you see America today if they had done differently?

10.     Everyone comes to Thomas Jefferson in a different way, influenced by his or her own time in history.  How has today’s political climate influenced your image of the man?


Monticello  - Read an Excerpt

Monticello  - The Story Behind the Story

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