Monday, July 21, 2008

Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser

Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser
Copyright 2008 (released in June)
Bethany House/Historical Fiction
289 pages, including "Fact or Fiction" notes and discussion questions
Author's website

What led you to pick up this book? Brittanie very kindly sent it to me because she thought I'd enjoy it. Thank you, Brittanie! You were right!

Describe the book without giving anything away. Washington's Lady is a fictionalized account of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington's life, from the time of her first husband's death until the loss of her second husband, the first United States President, George Washington. The book is written from Martha's point of view, except for the epilogue.

What did you think of the characters? I found Martha absolutely fascinating. I don't know that I'd ever given her, as an individual, much thought. I certainly had no idea that she endured so much grief in her life (she outlived all 4 of her surviving children), that she was wealthy when she married George, that she gathered women to sew for soldiers during the Revolutionary War and that she followed her husband to lodge near battlefields yearly, while he was away from home (for over 6 years). She was truly an amazing woman and one can see how her influence must have strengthened George Washington and helped him become the leader chosen to rule a new nation.

Share a favorite scene from the book: I can't think of a particular favorite, but there were none I disliked. The book is what I'd call a "quiet" book, paced slowly and evenly, with lovely description and believable dialogue. The writing is almost flawless, fact and fiction are interwoven nicely and Martha Washington's emotions, her faith and her devotion are portrayed in a way that is so perfect that I feel as if I've met her and peeked into her life. In fact, when Martha's son Jacky reminded her of Patrick Henry's famous quote, "I know not what course others may take; but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death," I was so caught up in the emotion of the moment that it brought tears to my eyes. The further I got into the book, the more swept up I became in Martha's world and felt her pain or joy. The author's notes on what is truly fact and what she fictionalized rounded out the book.

4.5/5 - Quite nearly perfect, although a bit slow. I enjoyed this book so much that I looked the author up while I was in the library. They carry her books! Wahoo! I will definitely read more by Nancy Moser.

Side note: Because Martha and George Washington were people of strong faith, God is mentioned frequently. Excerpts of genuine letters indicate the fact that there simply was no separating this famous couple from their beliefs. When the beginning of the U.S. Constitution is quoted, the reader understands the inclusion of "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all," and it's a heart-pounding, awe-inspiring moment. I am absolutely thrilled to find that there is solid, clean historical fiction of such quality and will seek out more books published by Bethany House. I've known about this Christian publishing company for years, but was under the impression that Christian lit still wasn't quite up to par. I'm really glad to find that I'm wrong.

Other reviews, here:

A Book Lover
Devourer of Books
5 Minutes for Mom (this one includes a giveaway copy of Washington's Lady!)

Highly recommended. I noticed Nancy Moser has written a book about Jane Austen, while perusing her website. Ah. I know which of her books I will be looking for, next.

16 comments:

  1. I am so going to read this book. I'm somewhat familiar with Party Marty, as I like to call her, because my high school job was as a snack bar waitress at Mount Vernon. But, as you say, she's something of a mystery. Thanks for the review!

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  2. Cupcake,

    You nut. Party Marty?! LOL I love it! You have extra incentive to read up, having worked at her home. In the author's notes, Moser mentions that Martha burned most of her letters; only a few remain. Ah, yes, that would make it a little more difficult to get insight about her, wouldn't it? But, apparently, there's plenty of info if one knows where to dig. Tell me if/when you get around to reading, please!

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  3. I am happy you liked it. It is def. "hot as hades". It said 106 when I got in my car this afternoon (4:00). I get to read the way I do because I have no kids and husband. lol I am a 25 year old maid. :)

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  4. Party Marty? LOL! Then I guess the cover might be an actual representation of her, although not a look I normally associate with Martha Washington.

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  5. Brittanie,

    I loved it!!! I'm really grateful that you introduced me to such a great "new" (for me, anyway) author!

    The heat is unbearable, isn't it? I just got a box from UPS (no idea how I got this stuff -- it was full of lotion and samples). It felt like it had been cooking in an oven! Hmm, not sure I trust lotion that's been cooked.

    Oh, yes, being single and childless probably helps. I was never single and out of school (I married after my sophomore year of college), so when my youngest graduates from HS, I'm sure I'll be either thrilled with the time or completely at a loss about what to do with myself! Enjoy it while you can!!! :)

    Carrie,

    I think that's an idealized version of Martha, but we can pretend. LOL

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  6. You have a neat format for your book review. :) I have to admit that this is not something I'll pick up from the way the cover looks, but I appreciate the review and will check this out. Historical fiction gets extra point, too!

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  7. Thank you, Matt!

    I no longer recall where I snatched up that format, but it makes reviewing a little bit quicker and easier.

    Those "chick with their head chopped off" covers can be off-putting, I agree. I really enjoyed this one and felt like I learned a great deal about a woman who deserves a lot more credit for her role in the founding of a nation than she's received. :)

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  8. Though I love historical fiction, I've never read anything about Martha Washington. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy! I'll have to start keeping an eye out for it at the bookstore!

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  9. Laura,

    The whole way through that book, I kept thinking I had noooo idea Martha was such an interesting person. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, when you get around to reading!

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  10. I've really gotten into historical fiction and this sounds like an excellent book - great review as well!

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  11. Tracee,

    I've just really gotten into historical fiction in the last couple of years. It's a great way to learn about history (and often a little more fun than nonfiction, although I've read some pretty terrific history, as well). Thanks! Let me know if you read it! I'd love to hear your thoughts. :)

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  12. Great review! I'll have to add this one to my recent list of historical novels that I want to read :)

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  13. Great review! I'm reading a non-fic book right now, Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts, and Martha Washington is covered in a fair amount of detail. She seems to have been such an inspirational lady to both other women and the soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

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  14. Iliana,

    You're on kind an historical craze, there, aren't you? I think Washington's Lady is a really terrific read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    Nyssaneala,

    Several people on one of my book listservs have mentioned Founding Mothers. I'll have to look that one up. You definitely get the sense that Martha Washington was a great inspiration to the soldiers and the other wives in Washington's Lady -- as well as a huge support to her husband. After reading about her, I'm suddenly a Martha fan. LOL

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  15. God, that dress on the cover is beautiful! Thanks for the insightful review!

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  16. Stephanie,

    The fabric is luscious, isn't it? Sometimes I wish I had an excuse to dress up like that.

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