From Publishers Weekly
The portrait of the beautiful, elegant young woman on the cover of this excellent biography will stun anyone used to seeing pictures of Martha Washington as a white-haired, matronly woman. And in a richly woven tapestry of social history and biography, historian Brady re-creates the 18th-century world of wealthy Virginia planters into which the elegant Martha, née Dandridge, was born and the "joyful duet" of her marriage to America's first president. Though born to wealth, Martha (1731–1802) was well schooled in domestic skills—from killing and plucking fowl to preserving fruits and vegetables— and the expected social graces. Just before she turned 19, Martha married Daniel Custis—whose father initially opposed the union, but Martha managed to persuade him otherwise—and moved to his large plantation, where she raised their two children until Custis's death in 1757. Two years later, as the owner of Custis's vast estate, she married George Washington and became the wife of a young colonel whose ambitions and military and political ingenuity catapulted him into the leadership of the colonies and later the republic. Devoted to George, Martha accompanied him on his sojourns during the Revolutionary War, and her considerable social skills were crucial in helping her husband navigate the difficult political waters of the presidency. Brady's splendid biography offers a compelling new portrait of this passionate, committed founding mother who has unjustly been obscured by others, such as Abigail Adams. (June 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Martha Washington is given her due, and readers whose interest in the significant contributions of women to the course of the American Revolution was piqued by Cokie Roberts' Founding Mothers
will welcome this digestible biography of America's first First Lady. Though historians have made much of George Washington's infatuation with Sally Fairfax, Brady paints a portrait of the long-lived marriage between George and Martha as a passionate merger of both minds and hearts. A lively, intelligent, and fiscally shrewd widow, Martha was the perfect match for the more somber and less financially secure George. Unwavering in her devotion to her second husband, Martha quickly became his sounding board as well as his most trusted confidante during the tumultuous revolutionary and presidential years. Although accurately reconstructing Martha's life and her famous marriage has always been hampered by the fact that she destroyed all her personal correspondence after Washington's death, Brady does an admirable job of utilizing other primary and secondary sources to flesh out the real Martha and place her firmly into historical context. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved