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Benjamin Franklin's Bastard: A Novel Hardcover – May 7, 2013
"The Swans of Fifth Avenue" by Melanie Benjamin
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife comes an enthralling new novel about Truman Capote's scandalous, headline-making, and heart-wrenching friendship with Babe Paley and New York's society "swans" of the 1950s. Learn more | See related books
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“Cabot laces her assured novel with Shakespearan overtones as the characters continually misconstrue one another’s motives. From Franklin’s intense intellectual curiosity to Anne’s stubborn insistence on leading an independent life, this memorable cast makes for spellbinding reading.” (Booklist)
“[A] poignant take of love, survival, loyalty, and the meaning of family.” 4.5 starsFantastic (RT Book Reviews)
“An enticing read for history buffs...genuinely heart-wrenching.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Unforgettable.” (Shelf Awareness)
“[F]or all Franklin’s genius, fortune, and increasing stature, he is not spared the trials of women, concerns for children, or the struggles between a father and son with political differences…. [Cabot is] a gifted writer.” (Providence Journal)
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Top Customer Reviews
I must admit the novel didn't draw me in at first. However, after continuing on, it grasped me and never let go until the last page. I was loathe for it to end because the author Sally Cabot wraps you up in the lives of characters you care about as she takes you on a journey through history, tragedy, triumph, mistakes, heartbreak and love from a number of different angles.
The novel covers several perspectives and is mainly told through the eyes of Deborah, Franklin's wife, Anne, Franklin's rejected mistress and William, Franklin's bastard son. All throughout these 3 stories Franklin is woven and made a touchable and knowable person instead of some distant historical figure.
Anne was the strongest and most likeable character for me. Although no one really knows the true identity of William's mother, Sally Cabot sifted through rumors that flew around Philadelphia and other places at the time, discarding the ones she believed were politically motivated or highly improbable. What she came up with was a wonderful imagining of what might have been - a sixteen year old girl born into poverty, struggling to survive and finding a new way to procure an extra bit of food beyond her job as a serving girl at the Penny Pot Inn. After being wooed by a young Franklin she finds herself pregnant, out of a job and in an even worse and desperate situation then before.Read more ›
I have lately become a big fan of this genre of stories - fictionalized accounts of actual historic characters. Recent favorites include Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, The Paris Wife, The Aviator's Wife, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, and Above All Things. Readers who enjoy any of these stories should love this one. Recommended highly for readers of women's historical fiction!
The story develops around BF, his illegitimate son, William, his common law wife, Deborah and finally Anne, the catalyst who brings the story full swing. The fictional character, Anne was probably developed to support ( and obviously embellish the story) the theory that a tavern girl turned prostitute gave birth to BF's son, William. For me, however, too much emphasis was given to this fictional character.
As I read this book, I had to remind myself to look at it, not through a modern day lens, but through the reading glasses that BF invented during their colonial time period. In no way, does this reflect the author's writing, which was wonderful, it is my own tendency. For example, as the story progressed, I felt little sympathy for Anne as she continued her prostitution practices even after BF hooked her up with a job at Mr. Grissom"s shop. Of course Anne continues to struggle to contrive circumstances to view her growing son. Meanwhile, BF's common law wife, Deborah seemed to me to be portrayed at the very least as a shrew and quite often as a neurotic especially after the death of hers and BF's son. Imagine also her extreme disappointment when BF sent for his partner to watch over his shop (and not her) when he is set to embark on yet another extended trip to England, aah, such were those good ol colonial days.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very easy read totally from a woman's prospective. It's mostly about his wife and his mistress. Only scratches the surface of Ben's overseas life, especially in France.Published 18 days ago by Mike
I really loved the book. Wish a little more of the story was dedicated to all the accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin's major inventions, but it was a great love story. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Francine Fuqua
One of the best reads I’ve had this year. I know little about Ben Franklin, and was certainly ignorant of this son the often loggerheads relationship the two men shared. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Martin P. Turnbull
Very interesting, the writer obviously did her research and brought to life a woman otherwise unknown.Published 6 months ago by Ann Ross
I really enjoyed this story and found t hard to put down. learning more of our founders is always a treat!Published 8 months ago by Jill