Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Review: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Pages: 672
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: America's First Daughter
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.  A general’s daughter…  Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.  A founding father’s wife...  But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.  The last surviving light of the Revolution…  When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…"

Eliza, known as Betsy as a child, is the daughter of General Philip Schuyler. Out of all of her sisters, she is the one that is a bit of a tomboy and challenges conventions.  She has many admirers, but once General George Washington's aide, Alexander Hamilton, catches her eye she is smitten. After a courtship filled with some ups and downs, they decide to marry. This is big deal, because although Alexander Hamilton is an up and coming person in society, he isn't financially secure. But Eliza doesn't care; she is in love.  What ensues is a lifetime of adventure in politics, love, war, and romance.  Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie bring Eliza Schuyler to life in My Dear Hamilton and it was a thrilling and heartbreaking ride.

I absolutely love that Dray and Kamoie decided to make this a novel about Eliza. So often she is in the background - a supporting character - never in the direct spotlight. She was always the strong woman behind an even stronger man, but not in My Dear Hamilton. Here her story takes center stage and I am ecstatic about this.  I always felt like Eliza's story had so much potential as she lived a very interesting life filled with a lot more adventure than I initially thought.  Her young adulthood living at the Schuyler house and spending time with her father, who is a General, was very fascinating.  I also loved the relationship she had with her family, although her relationship with her sister, Angelica, was a little too close for comfort at times in my opinion. But nonetheless, I thought the Schuyler family was really intriguing and I liked learning more about them through Eliza's eyes.

Which leads me to Alexander Hamilton.....most people know his story and how he desperately tries to overcome his illegitimate birth and his rough childhood (all his Achilles' heel), but Dray and Kamoie bring him to life in a way that I really enjoyed in My Dear Hamilton.  Since this novel isn't from his point of view, readers are able to witness him in a different way, which I actually preferred. It really showcased not only his brilliant intellect, but also his shortcomings.

Speaking of shortcomings, I am sure you want to know how My Dear Hamilton depicts Hamilton's various affairs and yes, it is in the novel, but it is done very well. I truly felt for Eliza and I expected her to leave him, but things are very complicated between them.  Plus, they have so, so many children. Their family life seemed so idyllic at times and he seemed so devoted to her, but then I would second guess him.  Plus, there's the whole first major political sex scandal, which he was obviously involved in.

This novel isn't just about their marriage though. It involves a lot of politics and a lot of adventure. All the wars, the drama between the Founding Fathers, and need I mention the duels? Yes, more than one duel and it was heartbreaking, especially since one involved their child. So, if you like an edge of your seat historical read, more often than not, I was in a state of suspense reading My Dear Hamilton.   Also, it should be noted that this book as very well researched, so historical fiction fans, need not be worried.

My Dear Hamilton is quite a lengthy read, but the story kept me entertained.  Eliza's devotion to her family, to Alexander through all the drama, all while being a kick-butt and fascinating woman kept me glued to the pages. I hope Dray and Kamoie write more novels about women in the future, especially those who often stand on the sidelines in history, but are still very important. I am glad these women's stories are finally being told and I can't wait to see who they feature next.


6 comments:

  1. I've been hearing a lot of good things about this one. I have a couple more Hamilton-centric books on my TBR that I want to get to, but I will probably also read this at some point, as well. Even though I love history and historical fiction, I don't often focus on the United States, so I don't actually know that much about Hamilton.

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    1. I know, right? A lot of my historical reads in the past focused on England, etc, up until recently, so it's been a pleasure getting to know Hamilton and this time period. I think you'd like this one! Thanks for visiting, Angela!

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  2. This sounds sooo good. I need to get a copy!

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    1. I think you'd like it, Joy. It well-researched and very entertaining. Thanks for visiting!

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  3. This book has intrigued me since I first heard about it. I really want to get my hands on it. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. I hope you do, Abby! It won't disappoint. Thanks for visiting!

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