Adult Historical Fiction Review: Find Out What It Means To Be "Benjamin Franklin's Bastard"

Benjamin Franklin's Bastard: A Novel
Title:  Benjamin Franklin's Bastard
Author:  Sally Cabot
Format:  E-galley
Length:  368 pages
Publisher:  William Morrow
Rating:  5 stars

Benjamin Frankiln’s Bastard by Sally Cabot is an absorbing and compelling work of literary historical fiction that brings to life a little-known chapter of the American Revolution — the story of Benjamin Franklin and his bastard son, and the women who loved them both.

William Franklin, the son of Benjamin and his favorite mistress, Anne, is raised by Deborah, Benjamin’s wife. A steadfast loyalist, he and his father cannot reconcile their wildly disparate views, causing a rift in the bond both thought unbreakable.

Fascinating and heartbreaking, Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard is a gripping tale of family, love, and war, set against one of America’s most fascinating periods of history.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
Benjamin Franklin is a man known for many things:  ingenuity, statesmanship, and scholarly pursuits being but a few.
The tale told in "Benjamin Franklin's Bastard" is the lesser known one of Ben Franklin as: man, lover, husband, and father.  The Benjamin glimpsed here is far removed from the man chronicled in America's various histories.  This is Ben as seen through the eyes of the women and little known illegitimate son who knew and loved him.

The love story found between these pages is filled with enough passion, deceit, secrets, scandal, and love to rival the steamiest of romance novels.

Unfolding as more of a love triangle than anything else, the stories of Anne, Ben's long-suffering mistress and Deborah, his wife, paint Mr Franklin's life in a palette both sordid and somber.  Your heart goes out to both of these woman in equal measure as you travail with them through the highs and lows of their fascinating, albeit rather unfortunate existences.  

For Anne, it's the hard scrabble life of the working poor; made harder still by her ill-fated tryst with the up and coming young Franklin, and by extension, their son William.
Deborah fares no better in this ordeal; although outward appearances might lead one to assume otherwise.
Finding herself wooed, bedded, and than abandoned by Ben.  Deborah is forced to marry by her mother.  Seeing her marriage as the untenable situation that it is, she makes the shocking and socially unacceptable choice to leave her cad of a husband.
When Ben comes back into her life with a heart full of professed love and the offer of marriage that will restore her to respectability; Deborah gladly accepts.  Little Does she know however that the price for her yes is the baby of her husband's mistress.

Enter William...

Son despised by the mother raises him and longed for by the mother who bore him.
He is truly loved by his father, but never secure in his place in the family.  A boy, who through no fault of his own, and despite all that he achieves, never finds the acceptance that he so craves.

This is a story that while at times hard to read, you will find hard to put down.  There is never a dull moment, and each of the stories told in this book compliments the others.  Sally Cabot writes on par with the likes of Margaret George; breathing new life and nuance into the story of a man that many know of, but few actually know.



  1. This sounds fascinating, added to my wish list!

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