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Dolley [Paperback]

Rita Mae Brown
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 1995
She had the president's ear and the nation's heart.

She's the wife of the fourth president of the United States; a spirited charmer who adores parties, the latest French fashions, and the tender, brilliant man who is her husband. But while many love her, few suspect how complex Dolley Madison really is.

Only in the pages of her diary—as imagined by novelist Rita Mae Brown—can Dolley fully reveal herself. And there we discover the real first lady—impulsive, courageous, and wise—as she faces her harshest trial: in 1814, the United States is once more at war with mighty Britain, and her beloved James is the most hated man in America.

From the White House receptions she gaily presides over to her wild escape from a Washington under siege, Dolley gives us a legend ,made warmly human. For there has never been a first lady so testedèor one who came through the fire so brilliantly.

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Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A cup of melted ice cream March 9 2001
Format:Paperback
I have to say I was disappointed in this novel; I was looking for more detail on daily life and less imaginary cocktail parties and political history redone up as a novel. I doubt Dolly Madison thought or conversed as she is portrayed here. She is indeed a "dolly", puppet for a history lesson from Author Brown. It was a quick read and a fun view into American history so I give it 3 stars, but for style and substance, it's lacking.
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By A Customer
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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2.0 out of 5 stars A pale historical account Dec 20 1997
Format:Paperback
This is a book long on accounts of parties and gossipy tidbits and short on historical accounts Dolley must have felt real horror as the British approached but this was not really portrayed in the book. Her servants seemed much more frightened. Dolley was more concerned with the politics of the day than with actual living. Altogether this book would not be missed if not read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting blend of history and fiction - a good read! May 31 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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 :(
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down. Aug. 4 2006
By Starfire - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dolley Dec 26 2010
By Sonja - Published on Amazon.com
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Daughters of 1812 in Texas relive Dolley May 28 2014
By Loretta Geick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a daughter of 1812 I enjoyed it and we will have a review discussion at our next chapter meeting. These accounts give so much life to our past and imaginations run wild. Mrs. Brown did Dolley proud!
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical story of Dolley Madison. March 19 2014
By CC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Enjoyed the diary approach to telling the story. Dolley Madison tells the story and the historical aspect was very interesting.
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