“Jefferson loved order, symmetry, and balance, and there was no place on the mountaintop more orderly, symmetrical, and balanced than the garden, which he had designed many years ago and worked to perfect for half a century.”
Thomas Jefferson is a fascinating historical character. He accomplished much in his life for his country and family and yet ended life deeply in debt. He loved his family and loved collecting books. One of the more fascinating aspects of his personal life is his home – Monticello. He designed the home and its gardens on a mountaintop he used to play on as a boy.
I visited Monticello this summer and found it fascinating. The house was well-thought out with automatically opening doors, a weather vane that showed the wind direction inside and outside of the house, outhouses with covered walkways, a pulley system to bring items up from the pantry and beautiful gardens. I wanted to learn more about Jefferson, so I bought Twilight at Monticello to read as my souvenir. It was neat to be able to picture the house in my mind while reading the book.
While the title of the book says it focuses on the final years of Jefferson, the author does take time to go over Jefferson’s childhood, early adulthood and time as President for the first half of the book. Then, Crawford spends time talking about different aspects of Jefferson’s life from his faith, the 1811 earthquake, his family, daily life at Monticello, slavery, books and debt. Dividing the chapters into topics instead of doing a chronological order of Jefferson’s life was a nice way to read his story. I liked digging deeper into a specific aspect of his life instead of reading a complete history.
If you are planning on visiting Monticello, this book would be great to read before visiting. I would recommend this book to any history lover, especially those who like Jefferson or have been to Monticello. I would recommend the book for high school readers or older (it does address slavery, domestic violence and Jefferson’s possible affair with a slave). Jefferson and his friend John Adams both passed away on July 4 – appropriate as they both saw the country declare its independence on that day years earlier.
Have you been to Monticello? Would you want to read more about Thomas Jefferson? Comment below!