Review of The Beautiful American

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, well paced. January 15, 2014
By Bev Scott, author, writer, retired organizati… – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Beautiful American (Paperback)
I was engaged in this story which begins in current time with an antique dealer, Abby, who purchases a coveted lady’s desk for herself. The desk is not only the connection between Abby and her suitor, Nathan, but also with the primary character of the second and major story line, Jasmine, a slave in the Virginia household of the future President James Monroe. This second story unfolds when Abby finds a diary in her new desk.
The author’s descriptions are vivid and clear and carried me into the experience of Jasmine’s struggles to help with and learn her letters beside her master’s spoiled and self-centered daughter, Eliza. Jasmine’s character develops from a naïve inexperienced young girl awed by her opportunity to move into the big house, receiving clothes, an education to a more confident young woman enchanted with a young aspiring artist she meets in Paris where Master Monroe serves as Ambassador to France.. Jasmine supports her mistress, Elizabeth Monroe, in preparations for entertainment, settles the high-spirited Eliza, keeps confidences for Elizabeth and earns a privileged place in the Monroe household.
I liked the inclusion of actual historical characters in this story. We follow the realistic characters of James and Elizabeth Monroe, as James becomes a significant player in the politics of our new nation. Monroe is encouraged and supported by Thomas Jefferson. The author even brings in Napoleon and his wife Josephine while the Monroes are living in Paris. The story is not deeply involved in the historical realities of these characters but adds spice to bring them into the story
Jasmine’s story is told primarily in her voice. This point of view allows the author to give us an intimate view of Jasmine’s character by using the dialect of the uneducated slave. Following this dialogue can be a challenge for the reader, but Holdsworth manages to use it to convey image and character of without slowing the reader down too much. As Jasmine is educated, including learning French, the author drops the use of the dialect. At times it was a bit confusing when the point of view moves from the intimate first person to the observer’s voice in describing the experiences and actions of James and Elizabeth Monroe. Since the point of view is Jasmine’s telling of the story, I wanted Jasmine to tell me more of her internal dilemmas and thoughts about her condition. Does she worry about being surprised and perhaps raped by Gabriel, the bitter rebel slave from a nearby planation? Did she have internal conflicts about leaving her love in France? The story doesn’t tell us.
As a reader, I anticipated the evolving romance between Abby and Nathan as well as the outcome for Jasmine. I would like a little more uncertainty. The author uses the diary as the vehicle to reveal Jasmine’s story. Yet I wonder if an uneducated slave would tell her story in a diary. Finally the title “The Beautiful American” is used to describe Elizabeth Monroe but the story is really about Jasmine…she is the beautiful American. Despite the questions I have raised, Jasmine’s story as well as the opening story of Abby and Nathan kept me engaged with a quick pace and vivid descriptions in a realistic historical context.

Press Release for The Beautiful American

Historical Fiction Novel Takes Readers From A Southern Plantation To
Post-Revolutionary Paris

For Immediate Release

Author Marilyn Holdsworth is pleased to announce the promotion of
historical fiction novel for women – The Beautiful American.

Abby Long is thrilled when she offers the winning bid for an antique desk
at an auction. With its intricately inlaid woods and elegant style, the
desk is perfect for Abby; it is the gift she promised herself to finally
celebrate her thriving antique business. She has no idea that the antique
desk holds a secret that will lead her on a fascinating, life-changing
journey back in time.

When Abby discovers a hidden diary stuffed inside a secret compartment in
the desk, she can hardly wait to read the spidery, faded script. As she
carefully turns the tattered pages, she reads the captivating story of two
remarkable women from opposite backgrounds who somehow manage to form an
unforgettable bond against the backdrop of a fledgling America struggling
to find its place in the world. Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, the wife of
James Monroe, and Jasmine, a young slave girl, develop an extraordinary
relationship as they are united by pivotal historic events, political
intrigues, and personal tragedies.

From a bucolic Virginia plantation to the bloodied, starving streets of
post-revolutionary Paris, this powerful tale follows the lives of two
courageous women from the past as they quietly influence—and inspire—a
woman of today’s world.

The Beautiful American is available in both print and ebook format.

Book Information:
The Beautiful American
Author: Marilyn Holdsworth
Publisher: AuthorHouse
ISBN: 978-1468556445
Published: April 2012
Pages: 242
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA

About The Author:
Marilyn Holdsworth graduated from Occidental College, where she majored in
literature and history. She has traveled extensively in France and
currently is a Huntington Library Fellow. Marilyn is a descendant of James
Monroe, has visited Monroe’s Virginia residence, and conducted research at
the James Monroe Museum. She currently lives in Southern California.

For more information, review copies, or interviews please contact the
author at:

Marilyn Holdsworth