Dear George, Dear Mary: A Novel of George Washington's First Love by Mary Calvi: A Book Review

Dear George, Dear Mary: A Novel of George Washington's First Love
Author: Mary Calvi
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A never-before-told love story of George Washington and heiress Mary Philipse based on historical accounts, letters, and personal journals by nine-time New York Emmy Award-winning journalist Mary Calvi.

"Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contended that it cannot be resisted." --George Washington

    Did unrequited love spark a flame that ignited a cause that became the American Revolution? Crafted from hundreds of letters, witness accounts, and journal entries, Dear George, Dear Mary explores George's relationship with his first love, New York heiress Mary Philipse, the richest belle in Colonial America.

     From elegant eighteenth-century society to bloody battlefields, the novel creates breathtaking scenes and riveting characters. Dramatic portraits of the two main characters unveil a Washington on the precipice of greatness, using the very words he spoke and wrote, and his ravishing love, whose outward beauty and refinement disguise a complex inner struggle.

     Dear George, Dear Mary reveals why George Washington had such bitter resentment toward the Brits, established nearly two decades before the American Revolution, and it unveils details of a deception long hidden from the world that led Mary Philipse to be named a traitor, condemned to death and left with nothing. While that may sound like the end, ultimately both Mary and George achieve what they always wanted.

     My Review: Dear George, Dear Mary tells the story of George Washington’s ill-fated romance with Mary Philipse. Mary is a young, rich, and beautiful New York socialite that is traumatized by her past. One day, she meets a young colonel named George Washington, who gentle understanding help her heal from past tragic events. One day. George is called away, and he never returns. Thinking that George has abandoned her, Mary marries another. However, Mary will always keep him in her heart.

   I didn’t know that before Martha Washington, there was another woman in George’s life. I was a bit hesitant reading this because I admire Martha, and I didn’t want George to fall in love with anyone besides her. After reading Dear George, Dear Mary, I found the relationship between George and Mary so tragic that I kept wondering what would happen had they ended up together.

  Mary Philipse is a very sympathetic and a pitiful character. Even though she was on the edge on womanhood when the novel begins, she has already suffered many misfortunes. She believe that she was responsible for her mother’s death and can never overcome her guilt. This leads her to be very melancholic and often she contemplates death. When she meets George, she loves him because of his straightforwardness and understanding. He helps her learn to heal her old wounds. Throughout the novel, Mary tries to move past the tragedies that have occured in her life and live a life of peace. Thus, Mary is a very relatable and realistic character because she is trying to come to terms with herself.

  I also thought George was a remarkable character. I have always admired him. However, this novel makes him more understandable. George is very honest and compassionate. He is also dutiful and loyal to his country. America is his main priority and makes many sacrifices, including delaying his courtship with Mary, to serve the new colony. Thus, it was very refreshing to see George Washington as a young, energetic man and how he matures into a formidable general.

    Overall, this novel is about misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and love. Though there were some cartoonish villains in the novel, I thought the rest of the characters were very realistic. The writing was very eloquent and gave us many sumptuous details of Colonial America. The only thing I did not like about this novel was that the ending seemed very rushed and abrupt. Still, I recommend this novel for those who want to read about young love. Dear George, Dear Mary is perfect for fans of Jefferson’s Daughter, Patriot Hearts, and I, Eliza Hamilton.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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