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Dolley Paperback – April 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If one can acquiesce to the rather leisurely pace of most of this fictional portrait of First Lady Dolley Madison, the payoff will be Brown's re-creation of Dolley's psychological, political and social insights into life in the nation's capital during the War of 1812. A combination of imagined first-person journal entries and third-person narrative, this work by the author of the considerably more racy Rubyfruit Jungle and Venus Envy took Brown eight years to research, though she admits she had to "read between the lines"; an extensive bibliography is included. In Brown's portrayal, Dolley comes across as independent, perceptive, smart and emotionally strong. She is also depicted as witty--"the free press works in such a way that not one of us is free from it": this from a woman about whom an eager-to-shock press spread false rumors concerning her friendships with men, particularly French political minister Louis Serurier. Those looking for romantic intrigue will not find it here, since Dolley is devoted to her husband. We do find political intrigue, however, as Madison's Republican administration meets with often nasty opposition by the New England Federalists, who do not support the war. This is a careful, endearing depiction of an admirable woman who, after her husband's death, spent much of her final 13 years tending to the restoration of Washington.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

YA?Brown's unusual technique of alternating narrated segments with Dolley Madison's fictional diary enables readers to gain insight into the woman's personality, opinions, family life, and events of her era. The exciting prologue is followed by chapters providing a historical overview of topics from domestic politics to the War of 1812. These can be tedious and difficult to understand, but the annotated list of characters helps tremendously. Occasionally the writing in the diary is unnatural?Brown is clearly providing background information rather than Dolley's feelings. However, the tension building to the British march on Washington is particularly well developed. An entertaining historical novel that combines love, suspense, and humor to reveal an oft-neglected era.?Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 409 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; English Language edition (May 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055356949X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553569490
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,710,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels-Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death-as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
Rita Mae Brown delivers again...recommended reading! Dolley has a good flavor of Madison's era. Fortunately its written as a novel and not a textbook, making it very readable and occasionally juicy. I found it to be a gentle way to get acquainted with - and interested in - early American history. Interested enough to go seek out Dolley Madison's memoirs and letters...too bad they are out of print :(
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Starfire on August 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've plowed through a number of heavy historical books about Dolley Madison but none of them ever gave me the sense of the real woman behind the legend until this book. Written in a personable style of Dolley writing in her journal, it is offset by third person narrative filling in the historical happenings. The book is surprisingly complete and correct in political detail. In Ms. Brown's book, Dolley is a living breathing woman who 'fusses' with sister Anna, wholeheartedly throws herself into her husband's political career, ignores her son Payne's wanton selfishness (too painful to contemplate), and deeply loves her husband James, even though she and 'the great little Madison' seemed to be polar opposites at first glance. It is their relationship that is the most interesting to me; they seemed mismatched in personality, James shy and introverted and Dolley bubbly and outgoing. James and Dolley Madison shared a love for the ages and reading about them in a novel form is a splendid read; the Madisons sound like one would imagine they would talk to one another. Maybe a few modernisms creep into their speech, but that for makes easier reading. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction or is just in the mood for a good romance with political backgrounds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sonja on December 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of Rita Mae Brown's best works! I was amazed at the similarities of todays politics vs the third president of the United States.
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By PCox on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Dolley" an interesting account of our 5th First Lady. Never having read much about any of the 1st Ladies of this nation, but throughly enjoying the works of Rita Mae Brown, I decided it was about time to correct my lapse in education. I'm very glad I picked this book to start with. It is written not in the usual narrative format but rather in a much more interesting mix of diary entries and narrative. The setting is a war without popular support, bad economy,skyrockteting national debt, warring factions and almost total gridlock in the Congress, an embattled president - does any of this sound very familiar?? The year is 1812, 200 years ago, and not much has changed. We are a fledgling nation at war with the powerbroker of the world England, who's main desire is to bring the "upstart rebels" to heel,if not as a colony again at least into the commonwealth. Into this seething, boiling stewpot of politics and national problems we view the life and feelings of a woman in the "thick of things". This book is a very good "read" and has encouraged me to continue learning about the lives of our Frist Ladies. I sincerely hope it will do the same for you.
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By D. Pattison on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
As I read this book, I thought about all the time I spent yawning my way through history classes. This is an exciting look at the interpersonal relationships of people long dead. Watching her Quaker mother face down a British soldier on horseback in her own home must have instilled in Dolley an ironclad determination to face adversity with all of the vivacity which her personality displayed. Brown gives James Madison a dimension which is seldom seen in our ancestors. If you are bored by historical facts, you may find your curiosity stimulated once again. The parallel between past politics and today's is very interesting.
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I've enjoyed Rita Mae Brown's writing, but generally found the Mrs. Murphy books to be more "fluff" than substance. "Dolly" on the other hand was well researched, and although not truly a biography as Ms. Brown had to make assumptions and guesses in many areas, it gave an interesting and complex view of politics during the War of 1812, the role of women in the early 1800's, and James Madison's term as president . Highly recommended for intelligent and thought provoking insight into a period too often overlooked and romanticized in our nation's history.
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By HJM on May 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I always enjoy Rita Mae's books and this one was no exception. I really enjoyed learning about this part of American history; it really came alive. What is probably mundane book learning to Americans is very interesting for other folk and Rita's telling of the story of Dolley Madison in diary form, what happened to the city of Washington, the French influence and entertaining at the White House was a rich tapestry for my eyes - it was so easy to imagine. It certainly was no dry, brittle history tome and I would happily recommend it to history buffs and novices alike.
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By jordyn skye on November 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got sold on Rita Mae's writing when I first read her fabulous book 'Six of One" I have tried to get my hands on everything she has written since and enjoyed them all. This is another one. Rita is so gifted at making or letting us see how someone is at their very core. They may need to pretend to be someone else, conforming to all societal nicetees but deep in their soul they rock to a different tune. This is another example of such writing. Very good and very real for a fiction author.
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