Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Washington's Lady

Title: Washington's Lady
Author: Nancy Moser
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Pub Date: June 2008, Bethany House
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased from BJ's Wholesale

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

It has been said that without George Washington there would be no United States. But without Martha, there would be no George Washington. He called her "my other self." Who was this woman who captured the heart of our country's founder? Martha Dandridge Custis was a wealthy, attractive widow and the mother of two small children when she was courted by, then married the French and Indian War hero. Her new life as Martha Washington took her through blissful times at Mount Vernon, family tragedies, six years of her husband's absence during the Revolutionary War, and her position as a reluctant First Lady.

My Thoughts

I'm not going to lie, the cover is probably the first thing that drew me to this book. Isn't it beautiful? Of course, I was also interested in reading this account of Martha Washington, knowing, of course, that it is a work of fiction. I grew up in Yorktown, Virginia, so I've always had a bit of an interest in the Revolutionary War as it relates to Cornwallis surrendering to George Washington on the Yorktown Battlefieds. As a matter of fact, I grew up just miles down the road from those very battlefields. And it should be noted that this book really provides an interesting look at what could have transpired all those years ago as the United States looked to gain freedom from British rule.

Telling the story from Martha's perspective was an interesting way to view the events of the day. It was fun to read about various meetings between so many famous politicians and revolutionaries of the day: Patrick Henry, John Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette, and many others. This book is also a work of Christian fiction, but unfortunately I didn't find it to be particularly uplifting Christian fiction. Obviously those times were very different and much more difficult, with death lurking around every corner, but all of the deaths that Martha had to face really became overwhelming. And quite honestly, I found the portrayal of her character to be tedious -- particularly in the matter of raising her children (and apparently there was truth to her weak parenting skills). Frequently it also seemed like she needed to do a better job of practicing what she preached. That she could be such a pillar and comfort to George Washington and was always able to say the right thing to him seems miraculous given her own spiritual shortcomings. I suppose that isn't such an uncommon practice, though.

With respect to the writing, I found it to be rather dull. To be frank, it became a chore to finish this book. The sentences were choppy and the vast amount of detail and dialogue were often dull and tedious to read. There were a few moments of wit, like the exchange between Martha and George Washington that I shared in my Teaser Tuesdays post, but more often than not, the book was very dry. I did appreciate the notations of fact vs. fiction that Moser included after the story -- that was well worth the read to see just how much of Martha's characterization was true, along with various events that were portrayed. Even so, all the positives weren't enough for me to give this better than a 3-star rating. It was certainly a worthy read from the standpoint of the history of the Revolutionary War, but this version of Martha Washington (how true to her real self no one will ever know) was a difficult character to warm up to -- ultimately not the best way to tell the story, in my opinion.

My Rating



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