What if he lands in a psycho ward or meets the President — at an Independence Day citizenship ceremony at his own hilltop home, Monticello, no less?
Chosen by the staffers of the Urbana (Illinois) Free Library one of their favorite books of 2012, "Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me" is a tale told by retired history teacher, Jack Arrowsmith, a man numbed by the deaths of his wife and son. It's about his — and his late son's girlfriend, Rachel Carter's — friendship with the writer of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States and Epicurean genius who designed Monticello and pretended to hate politics.
Jack and Rachel meet the ghost of Jefferson at Monticello and, fighting off their panic, agree to take him off to see America.
A history grad student at Columbia, Rachel knows secrets about Jack's son and wife that she decides Jack must know. They will turn his world upside down, just as Rachel's world will be changed forever by her evolving relationship with the reincarnated champion of freedom who pretended to loathe slavery and yet embraced it in his middle and later years as the calculating plantation owner that he was.
Dazzled by Rachel, Jefferson regains the vigor of his prime as the trio travels together. But what then? How can a man used to power, prestige and wealth get by without a cent and no official identity?
A realistic fantasy, "Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me" has been called time travel, historical fiction and a ghost story. It's not quite any of those. Rather than a commercial potboiler, it’s a literary work about love, loss and redemption and the ghosts that haunt us all.
Even though it's an indie book with an extremely limited marketing budget, it found its way into libraries coast to coast in its first year of existence as a paperback (2012-2013).
Among them is the Thomas Jefferson Library at Monticello, operated by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which acquired the novel for its collection in the spring of 2012.
A major Beverly Hills talent agency inquired in 2013 about the availability of its film rights.
The the staff of the Urbana (Illinois) Free Library named it one of their favorite books of 2012.
Here's a comment (January 2012) from a reader completely unknown to the author:
"Upon receiving this book as a gift I was told by the presenter that it was one of the better books they had read this year. I couldn't agree more. The story is moving, the characters are well developed and likable, even in their not-so-best moments. The author certainly humanized a pivotal American figure for me, even if it is the author's take on his personality. It serves as a nice reminder that these men and women were human as well, for all our faults and talents. I would definitely recommend this book."
Another reader wrote: "I read your book in three sittings, which surely tells you that I couldn't put it down. After the first chapter, I was hooked and when it ended, I wanted more. Your writing, especially your descriptions, is beautiful. Talk about using words precisely and effectively. I could see Charlottesville and Monticello and wanted to go back (especially to Fleurie, which must be new since my days). I also need to take that evening tour at Monticello. The dialogue was great, believable. Parts made me laugh. Your characters interested me, amazed me, surprised me, made me sad. I was fascinated by how you built the story, how the characters developed, how your imagination worked. I was intrigued by how much real history was there without any sense of a history lesson. And of course the Jefferson questions are irresistible. It was fun to read your book after having just read 'The Hemingses of Monticel