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Benjamin Franklin's bastard
Cabot, Sally
Adult Fiction CABOT

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From Publishers' Weekly:

An enticing read for history buffs, Cabot's novel fluidly captures the changing political climate of 18th-century Philadelphia and its star, "the brilliant, entertaining, and innovative" Benjamin Franklin. Relying on his considerable charm, the up-and-coming Franklin woos the two "malleable women" of his life: Deborah Read (who eventually becomes his lawful wife) and Anne, a tavern girl-turned-prostitute who bears Franklin's illegitimate son, William. Cabot's novel becomes genuinely heart-wrenching when Franklin, disavowing a "youthful affinity for low women," convinces Anne to give up William and asks Deborah to raise him as their own. Her decision to accept William marks the beginning of a decades-long struggle between her husband, his illegitimate son, and William's mysterious birth mother. Two-parts soap opera, one-part history lesson, Cabot's novel swiftly chronicles Franklin's political rise and William's privileged but troubled upbringing. Yet it's Anne who emerges as the most compelling and complex character. Cabot, an avid participant in her Massachusetts town's local historical society, culls letters, historical records, and rumors of the time to bring to life the plucky and devoted mother of Franklin's bastard, whose real identity remains unknown. The worthwhile theme of Anne's separate journey for happiness and legitimacy receives too little space in this otherwise satisfying period piece. Agent: Kris Dahl, ICM. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

This debut novel would have been more aptly titled "Benjamin Franklin's Consorts," as this is the Founding Father's life as it intersected with Deborah, his real common-law wife, and the author-concocted Anne, mother of his only surviving son, William. The boy is raised never knowing his birth mother and disliked by his adoptive parent. But he grows up in the image and ways of his father until the time of the American Revolution, when the two have an irreparable break. We experience this through Deborah and Anne mainly: Deborah always insecure with the gallivanting and never-committing Franklin, and Anne, the inquisitive and imaginative whore who was perhaps the real soul mate. Cabot leads us to question the psychological impact on William of his lifelong attempt to legitimize his status in the eyes of his parents and the community. Was he a "bastard" by birth, because of his upbringing, or because he was the last royal governor of New Jersey? VERDICT A pleasant read, with insights into the status of women in Colonial times, and of interest to lovers of the era, especially of that scamp Benjamin. [See Prepub Alert, 11/19/12.]-W. Keith McCoy, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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