What if Thomas Jefferson — brilliant, quirky and flawed — returned to life, penniless, powerless, without a single slave? What if he meets a beautiful mixed-race woman he takes to be Sally Hemings reborn?
What if he lands in a psycho ward or meets the President — at an Independence Day citizenship ceremony at his own hilltop home, Monticello, no less?
Chosen by the staffers of the Urbana (Illinois) Free Library one of their favorite books of 2012, "Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me" is a tale told by retired history teacher, Jack Arrowsmith, a man numbed by the deaths of his wife and son. It's about his — and his late son's girlfriend, Rachel Carter's — friendship with the writer of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States and Epicurean genius who designed Monticello and pretended to hate politics.
Jack and Rachel meet the ghost of Jefferson at Monticello and, fighting off their panic, agree to take him off to see America.
A history grad student at Columbia, Rachel knows secrets about Jack's son and wife that she decides Jack must know. They will turn his world upside down, just as Rachel's world will be changed forever by her evolving relationship with the reincarnated champion of freedom who pretended to loathe slavery and yet embraced it in his middle and later years as the calculating plantation owner that he was.
Dazzled by Rachel, Jefferson regains the vigor of his prime as the trio travels together. But what then? How can a man used to power, prestige and wealth get by without a cent and no official identity?
A realistic fantasy, "Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me" has been called time travel, historical fiction and a ghost story. It's not quite any of those. Rather than a commercial potboiler, it’s a literary work about love, loss and redemption and the ghosts that haunt us all.
Even though it's an indie book with an extremely limited marketing budget, it found its way into libraries coast to coast in its first year of existence as a paperback (2012-2013).
Among them is the Thomas Jefferson Library at Monticello, operated by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which acquired the novel for its collection in the spring of 2012.
A major Beverly Hills talent agency inquired in 2013 about the availability of its film rights.
The the staff of the Urbana (Illinois) Free Library named it one of their favorite books of 2012.
Here's a comment (January 2012) from a reader completely unknown to the author:
"Upon receiving this book as a gift I was told by the presenter that it was one of the better books they had read this year. I couldn't agree more. The story is moving, the characters are well developed and likable, even in their not-so-best moments. The author certainly humanized a pivotal American figure for me, even if it is the author's take on his personality. It serves as a nice reminder that these men and women were human as well, for all our faults and talents. I would definitely recommend this book."
Another reader wrote: "I read your book in three sittings, which surely tells you that I couldn't put it down. After the first chapter, I was hooked and when it ended, I wanted more. Your writing, especially your descriptions, is beautiful. Talk about using words precisely and effectively. I could see Charlottesville and Monticello and wanted to go back (especially to Fleurie, which must be new since my days). I also need to take that evening tour at Monticello. The dialogue was great, believable. Parts made me laugh. Your characters interested me, amazed me, surprised me, made me sad. I was fascinated by how you built the story, how the characters developed, how your imagination worked. I was intrigued by how much real history was there without any sense of a history lesson. And of course the Jefferson questions are irresistible. It was fun to read your book after having just read 'The Hemingses of Monticel
Bartleby, Scrivener & Co.
Bartleby, Scrivener & Co.
Bartleby, Scrivener & Co.
Bartleby, Scrivener & Co.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My summer reading usually consists of books with engaging characters or a plot that entertains. My winter books tend to be non-fiction and more thought provoking. With Thomas Jefferson, Rachel and Me, Peter Boody has written the perfect book for all seasons. I loved the characters, even the minor ones. They are interesting and life-like, and some so well developed you feel that you know them. The plot is certainly entertaining with the reincarnation of Thomas Jefferson in the 21st Century. But there is more to the book than that. Jack, the main character is a history teacher, and he teaches us a lot, not only about colonial American History, but American history right up to the present. There are discussions of slavery and race, civil rights and the Constitution all in the background of a very engaging plot. Jefferson's comments on these matters seem true to character but at the same time unexpected. Just as it might be if you met him in person. I got my breezy beach read and a...
Although an avid reader, I have never before felt moved to post a book review. But this book is different. I want to keep thinking and talking about it, maybe to prolong my time with the story and its characters.
The book moves quickly, but the characters have stayed with me. Boody skillfully brings the three main characters to life, endowing each with an intriguing past that is still haunting his or her present. Even Thomas Jefferson, who first emerges in a beautifully and eerily rendered twilight scene at Monticello, develops from a mysterious wisp of vapor into a complex corporeal being full of passions, regrets, and questions.
What happens when Jefferson embarks on a modern day adventure with Jack, a retired history teacher who is grieving the death of his wife and only son, and Rachel, a beautiful, mixed race graduate student who was engaged to Jack's late son, is the imaginative story that unfolds in this highly entertaining book. Through his...
Of all the Founders, I guess we can't be too surprised that it's Thomas Jefferson who loves to Google on his Mac computer. Jefferson arrives as an apparition, but soon dons flesh and bones and moves right into the 21st century. He's amazed yet undaunted with today's technology, but remains a man of his own time, which presents its own problems for his agreeable hosts and himself.
Peter Boody's fine novel is a rare treat. It includes humor and some zany adventures, but also serious issues of TJ's history and legacy. It was a pleasure to share their fun and their troubles.
As a history enthusiast and Jefferson fiction author myself, I was familiar with many of the references in this book, though this certainly isn't necessary. But it does make me all the more appreciative of Mr. Boody's refreshing, skillful, approach to these topics. Whether you're a Jefferson "fan" or are simply looking for a thoughtful, engaging, adventure, I recommend this book without...
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