The Randolph Women and Their Men by Ruth Doumlele (Review #2)

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Randolph Women and Their Men by Ruth DoumleleSome names of particular families are well-respected from the viewpoint of the general public. Randolph in Virginia is such a name and instantaneously brings in the vision of wealth, prosperity, respectfulness, and properness. However, all the glistens is not gold.

The Randolph family perhaps is best known for their relationship with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s daughter, Martha, married Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. who later became the Governor of Virginia.

THE RANDOLPH WOMEN & THEIR MEN really centers on Ann Cary Randolph, nicknamed Nancy who supposedly was impregnated by her brother-in-law while living in her sister’s house. When she “miscarried”, there was considerable investigation as to whether or not the baby was murdered. Nancy denied that the baby belonged to her sister’s husband. Everybody just assumed this. Adding more intrigue and resentment is the fact that Nancy remained under this same roof for years.

Being that travel was an immense burden during the Revolutionary times, the only exposure to people was frequently only to those within a family. The number of marital relationships within cousins is startling, as well as the frequent births and deaths due to lack of medical knowledge at that time. Also, the gossiping rivaled any reality show of our modern age. The women tended to actually feed upon any tidbit or assumption that could be twisted into a rumor.

Hidden in the soap opera of the family feuds, infidelities, disloyalties, and affairs is the behind the scenes history of our country that is not well known to the general public. Also, the viewpoint of Thomas Jefferson from an observer was invigorating. His relationships, attitudes, and decisions regarding Madison, Monroe, Washington, Lafayette, and John Adams were insightful.

The constant instability of the slavery situations was an issue discussed in THE RANDOLPH WOMEN & THEIR MEN which allowed you to better understand the time period as well as the people and their economic dependency of this system.

At times, the many similar names became confusing. The history of lesser known events or how they related to a major happening though was enlightening. I found the gossip from two-hundred years ago to be petty and tiresome yet, the book was thoughtful and realistic. The characterizations were well-researched and developed. Yes, the author certainly had opinions and viewpoints regarding certain people and their reputations.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. I look forward to reading anything written by Ruth Doumlele in the future.


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