• My Theodosia

  • A Novel
  • By: Anya Seton
  • Narrated by: Maya Beechwood
  • Length: 14 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Anya Seton's best-selling first novel, originally published in 1941, captures all the drama of the short life of Theodosia Burr (1783-1813). Her father, Aaron - Thomas Jefferson's vice president, most famous for his great duel with Alexander Hamilton - holds sway over young Theodosia's heart. But his arrogance forces her to choose between the man he insists she marry and her love for a young soldier, who will turn out to play a decisive role in her father's fate. 

Persuaded by Aaron that through his treasonable plans she will soon be crowned princess of the kingdom of Mexico, she is received like royalty on Blennerhassett Island, only to end up trying to exonerate her father as he awaits trial in a Richmond jail, repudiated by his fickle son-in-law and friends.

Theodosia remains a haunting figure in American history, still lovely, still imperious, never vanquished.

©1941, 1968 Anya Seton Chase (P)2021 Tantor

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A Fascinating Perspective on the Burr Conspiracy

I have loved this novel since I first read it in my late 20s, and this performance was an enjoyable opportunity to revisit an old favourite.

Theodosia's story is tragic: a daughter, completely subservient to her powerful and overbearing father's every whim, is cheated of pursuing a relationship with a man she loves because her father wants her to marry a wealthy man. While the romance with Meriwether Lewis is not entirely historical, it's certainly a compelling idea, as is the friendship with Washington Irving. The romance, in particular, allows Seton to explore the psychological aspects of Aaron Burr's character, as he pushes (gaslights and manipulates) her into a marriage with Joseph Alston (whose life as a Southern planter is both alien and unpleasant for her) and later as Burr uses her to forward his political aspirations, embroiling her and her husband in his treasonous plot to create his own empire in the newly opened American West.

It's important to remember that the writing is from the pre-Civil Rights era, and that the events of the novel take place nearly half a century prior to the Civil War. Thus, depictions of persons of colour, attitudes toward the lower classes, slaves, and servants, and the descriptions of life on a Southern plantation may be disturbing to some readers.

It is my understanding that, though Seton researched meticulously prior to writing this novel, there are a number of historical inaccuracies. But for a broad overview of the Burr conspiracy as seen through the eyes of his daughter, this is a creditable effort, especially for a first novel. And while it does bog down in a few places where the political exposition is a bit heavy-handed, the book is, overall, very enjoyable.