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Publisher's Summary

An absorbing and compelling work of literary historical fiction, set in colonial Philadelphia, 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.

Sixteen-year-old Anne is an uneducated serving girl at the Penny Pot tavern when she first meets the commanding Benjamin Franklin. The time she spends with the brilliant young printer teases her curious mind, and the money he provides keeps her family from starving. But the ambitious Franklin is committed to someone else, a proper but infatuated woman named Deborah Read who becomes his common-law wife. At least Anne has William, her cherished infant son, to remind her of his father and to soften some of life's bleakness.

But growing up a bastard amid the squalor of Eades Alley isn't the life Anne wants for her only son. Acutely aware of the challenges facing them, she makes a heartbreaking sacrifice. She will give up William forever, allowing Benjamin and Deborah Franklin to raise him as their own.

Though she cannot be with him, Anne secretly watches out for her beloved child, daring to be close to him without revealing the truth about herself or his birth, and standing guard as Deborah Franklin struggles to accept her husband's bastard son as her own.

As the years pass, the bustling colonies grow and prosper, offering opportunities for wealth and power for a talented man like William's father. Benjamin's growing fame and connections as a scientist, writer, philosopher, businessman, and political genius open doors for the astute William as well, and eventually King George III appoints Benjamin's bastard son to the new position of Royal Governor of New Jersey. Anne's fortunes also rise. A shrewd woman of many talents, she builds a comfortable life of her own - yet nothing fills her with more joy or pride than her son's success and happiness.

But all that her accomplished son has achieved is threatened when the colonies - led by influential men, including his own father - begin the fight for independence. A steadfast, loyal subject of the British Crown, William cannot accept his father's passionate defense of the patriots' cause, and the enduring bond they share fractures, a heart-wrenching break that will forever haunt them and those they love.

A poignant tale of passion, family, love, and war, Benjamin Franklin's Bastard skillfully brings into focus a cast of remarkable characters drawn from real life, and vividly re-creates one of the most remarkable and thrilling periods of history - the birth of the American nation.

©2013 Sally Cabot (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy
  • Glenside, PA, United States
  • 06-20-13

A wonderful adult portrayal of history

Would you listen to Benjamin Franklin's Bastard again? Why?

Maybe, I don't really relisten/reread books but I would consider it to follow more of the historical points.

What about David Colacci’s performance did you like?

Yes I thought it was well read and well animated

If you could rename Benjamin Franklin's Bastard, what would you call it?

William Franklin's mother and her trials in the time of matriarch power

Any additional comments?

I really enjoy historical fiction and I was keen with the way they portrayed the relationships that Franklin and Anne had. It was tasteful and not smutty. I also liked the sprinkling of historical points in the story. My favorite part was the ending and learning about Benjamin and William's relationship in connection to the Revolutionary War.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Get to know a different side of an American hero

Would you listen to Benjamin Franklin's Bastard again? Why?

I don't really listen or read books again - too many new ones out there but on the basis of if this was a good listen - then yes I would. Good story and good narration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Benjamin Franklin's Bastard?

That Ben Franklin married Deborah Reed out of obligation, duty and pity. Not what I understood from nonfiction books I have read. Interesting take on the author's part.

What about David Colacci’s performance did you like?

He did raise the timbre of his voice for the female characters he didn't do it so much that is was a distraction or irritation. Often male narrators when reading for a female character use an affectation that makes the character sound stupid, false and basically irritating. Colacci did not do this.

If you could take any character from Benjamin Franklin's Bastard out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Separately I would like to have dinner with Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Franklin. I would like to hear Deborah's side of the story in more detail and find out if she was really not as intelligent as the author made her seem. I always thought BF would marry someone of high intelligence not out of pity. And of course dinner with BF would for sure be an interesting experience.

Any additional comments?

Interesting way of looking at one of our founding fathers. I'm sure there was dramatization and fabrication of some events and feelings but still made for an interesting story. Liked the fictional character Ann, William's mother & Benjamin's mistress.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I learned a lot

I had no idea about all of the things I learned about Ben Frank in this book. It was interesting, entertaining and educational all at the same time. I recommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Lecherous Franklin shown less than his legend.

Fascinating details of the real man behind the many accomplishments. Flighty as a bumblebee, never 'there' for his family, always in search of the next excitement - whether scientific or sexual - Franklin seems rightly pictured as monumental to the public but manipulative & forgetful of the family that suffered along with his tinkering, extended trips to England & France and inability to understand the wrecked psyches that he left in his wake. Yes, he took care of his bastard son - and the. bastard son of his son - as well as the third bastard in the family. But one must wonder about this bastard legacy that tab thru 3generations. A great historical novel, based on historical facts. Highly recommended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mare99
  • South Ogden, UT
  • 03-05-18

F

In most accounts of the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin appears as the American patriot, diplomat, and international playboy that he was. History has been mostly silent on his earlier life and family, and I have wondered why he seemed so alone. This novel, though fictionalized, appealed to me greatly. The framework - the bones, as it were- of what is in the historical record help me understand him better, and the story, the speculations Cabot makes about his personal life, make this an enjoyable and rewarding book. In short, I liked this book very much.

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Fictional misfiled as history

This is a novel, and is listed in the wrong section. This should be clearly labeled as what it is.