We all know that our Founding Fathers were, for the most part, very human and flawed. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson top the list with sex scandals of their own, but many don’t realize that our beloved Benjamin Franklin, inventor of the Lightning Rod, Bifocal lenses, and the urinary catheter, had his own scandals to live with. For a start, good old scholarly and political Ben had an “illegitimate” son with a woman whose identity is unknown in present time. Benjamin Franklin acknowledged this child as his own and he was called William Franklin.
The story of the relationship between Benjamin Franklin and his son, William, is the storyline for Sally Cabot’s novel, Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard. The author takes creative liberty in regards to the mystery woman who is William’s mother, making her a serving girl in a pub, and tracing her life as she pines for her son, but cannot provide for him on her own, so remains a stranger to him, watching from afar, but the strife between William and Benjamin is likely to be close to accurate, as William was a self-proclaimed Loyalist to the British crown, and Benjamin wanted the New World to have its freedom at last. The two men went separate ways and were great men in their own ways, also. The parallels between the lives of both men, and the differences between them make for an excellent story with a lot of historical backbone that anyone who loves American History will love.
This novel is not humorous or romantic, but an excellent portrayal of what it might have been like as the son of Benjamin Franklin, founding father, brilliant inventor and philosopher, and legend.