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…
If Alexander had lived, he’d have never let that stand. He’d have challenged Monroe just as he challenged me, and everyone else, every day of his life. And I am a better person for it.
I live in a better world because of Alexander Hamilton.
And so do we all.
OMG, people, this book.
As a history nerd and former junior high social studies teacher, I’ve always been a bit of an Alexander Hamilton fan, even when I didn’t agree 100% with every single choice he made in his personal(! Dude! What were you thinking???) or professional life. I vaguely remembered reading some about his wife in one of Cokie Roberts’ books (Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation), but it was ages ago and I don’t remember a whole lot.
Seriously, how is it possible that no one has written an actual biography of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton? I’ve had Chernow’s book on my mental TBR’s “when I’ve got a good chunk of time” shelf for some time–surely I’ll manage it before seeing the musical next year, yes?–but of course Mr. Hamilton will be the focus of that work, not his wife. When I saw that Ms. Dray and Ms. Kamoie were writing a biographical historical fiction version of her life? I was beyond excited. I’d loved America’s First Daughter, after all (even if I can never think of Thomas Jefferson in quite the same way again) and knew they’d do an equally amazing job telling Eliza’s story.
They did not disappoint! Though the story had me captivated from start to finish, the author notes at the end were equally engrossing. Separating fact from fiction and hearing their reasoning behind the choices they made when fictionalizing Eliza’s life was absolutely fascinating. The Telling Her Story: How My Dear Hamilton Differs from Hamilton: An American Musical section was just as fascinating, and I completely blame these two authors if just hearing the words “I’m not throwing away my shot” makes me burst into tears from this point on. (I may also spend much of my time at the musical performance next year glaring at the actress who plays Angelica. Don’t judge.)
I really can’t recommend this book enough. If you love American history (but perhaps wonder where the women are in the history books…?) read this. If you’re an Alexander Hamilton fan–whether you already have/are going to/want to see/or have never heard of (if that’s the case, where the heck have you been?) the musical version of his life, read this. If you love books about strong but flawed heroines, read this.
Heck, just read this book. You won’t be sorry. Since I now have an audio, print, and ebook copy, you’d better believe this book has now been shifted to my “I’m going to read this again, and again, and again…” shelf. I’ll try to resist the urge to read it again right now somehow.
To distract myself, a re-read of Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation is most definitely in order…and maybe Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation too, while I’m at it…maybe it’s even time to seriously consider picking up Chernow’s book…?
However, I’ll probably never be a Thomas Jefferson fan again…just sayin’. This novel did not at all improve my opinion of him…
Rating: 5 stars / A