A debut novel about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, in whose story the conflict between the American ideal of equality and the realities of slavery and racism played out in the most tragic of terms.
...a colossal postmodern novel that’s often baffling, possibly offensive and frequently bizarre ... With its magically engineered collection of fiction, history and fantasy, and particularly with its own capacious spirit, Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings doesn’t just knock Jefferson off his pedestal, it blows us over, too, shatters the whole sinner-saint debate and clears out new room to reconsider these two impossibly different people who once gave birth to the United States. It’s heartbreaking. It’s cathartic. It’s utterly brilliant.
...a brave and wondrous dream of a novel that renders the fraught subject of their relationship a fascinating, complex and ultimately extremely addictive tale ... This reader suffered acute discomfort that the book's particular romantic partners are master and slave, but history's discomforts have their attractions all the same. Thomas Jefferson gives us a piercingly intimate view of two people's entanglement, one that I totally fell into, wanting only to learn more. These lovers are not cardboard cutouts but deeply, engagingly human.
Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings is a lengthy novel, but it hardly ever reads as one. Its chapters are clear, short and episodic, and O’Connor writes about slavery and intimacy with equal grace. His vision of romance in a society defined by division is wrenching, and proof that dreaming can expose reality better than any hard truth.