Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady

Martha Washington

“It was quite a love story, but a lasting one, not one of those tempestuous romances that blaze up suddenly and just as quickly turn to ashes.  Both Martha and George had been in love with others, but once they married in their late twenties, their relationship became a joyful duet that lasted more than four decades.”

As the most famous American and possibly the greatest hero our country has ever known, George Washington has been much studied and written about.  But to truly understand this man, one must also understand the woman he loved and their relationship.  I’ve read many biographies of First Ladies, and while I felt I learned something about Martha Washington, this biography left me wanting more.  Perhaps it wasn’t actually the author’s fault.  Most of what we learn about early celebrities, we garner from their letters.  Mrs. Washington did not want the public to scrutinize her marriage or her relationship with her husband – she destroyed all of their correspondence.

I greatly enjoyed the first part of the book, telling about Martha’s background, her early marriage and what life was like for her during those days.  The middle part, however, was a little on the dull side.  It felt a little like a chronology of Revolutionary War events, with a “Martha went here” and “Martha went there” thrown in.  The last part – dealing with George Washington’s election to the presidency and their new public life, was very interesting.

As I haven’t read any other biographies of Martha Washington, I don’t personally have any other research to compare it to.  Other reviewers have said that this is one of the few works that portrays Mrs. Washington as a vibrant, intelligent woman, rather than matronly, dignified and dull.  The author clearly tries to show the First Lady as charming and bright, and it is very apparent through letters and witness statements, that George and Martha Washington loved each other very much.  Her constant travels to be with her husband during the war, are a testament to her bravery and love for her husband.  “She wasn’t fearless, but she was brave enough to do things anyway.”  The book left a good impression for me about an amazing woman, and an appreciation for her role in the birth of our nation.

3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
276 pages
Published in 2005

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About Suzanne

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids who loves to read.
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