My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie: A Book Review
My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
Author: Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Source: This book was given to me by TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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…
My Review: My Dear Hamilton is a biographical novel of Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza. Eliza Hamilton is a strong supporter of the American Revolution. During a ball one night, she meets Alexander Hamilton, an officer in George Washington’s camp. She hears that he is a womanizer. However, he charms her and she falls passionately in love with him. Eventually, they are able to get married. After the war, Alexander settles down to begin building the new nation. But even as the new nation is dawning, Eliza experiences some hardships in her marriage. When her husband betrays her, Eliza tries to understand the man she loves.
I love how this novel begins by not having Eliza first meeting Alexander Hamilton and that it actually takes a while until Alexander finally makes his appearance. Eliza is described as a passionate revolutionary and a bit of a tomboy. However, her family is on the brink of disgrace. Her father is suspected of being a British sympathizer and is disliked by the American army. Her older sister elopes with a man that her family disapproves of. This gives the reader more of an understanding of her circumstances and who Eliza is before she gets eclipsed by her husband.
However, it is after Eliza meets Alexander Hamilton that weakens the novel. As soon as she meets Alexander, she instantly becomes a supporting figure. Her character diminishes greatly. She is no longer the star of the novel, but a supportive character. When she is betrayed by Alexander, she does not stand up for herself. She becomes a passive character, and instead of having an outer battle with Alexander, she has an internal struggle, wondering if Alexander loves her or not. I also thought that she forgave Alexander too easily for his betrayal.
The weakest points in My Dear Hamilton is Eliza’s relationship with Alexander. I did not think the authors did a good job in showing the characters’ love story. I did not understand why Eliza fell for him at first sight. When she first met him, she learned that he is a womanizer and is in love with another woman who rejects his advances. There was no reason for why she fell in love with him or what made her believe that he was the one for her. The book just states she just loves him.
Another weak point in the novel is the development of Alexander Hamilton. By the time I finished the novel, I realized that I truly did not understand him. By the time he is introduced, I was already suspicious of him. When we meet him, he gives Eliza his attentions because he wants to make the woman he loves jealous. When he finally tells Eliza about his affair with Maria Reynolds, it is no surprise. Throughout the novel, I did not believe that he loved Eliza. When he spoke words of love to Eliza, I did not think he meant them. As a character, he was vain, impulsive, hot-headed, and vengeful. I disliked him immensely, and I wondered how Eliza could love him and stay by his side.
The best part of the book was without Alexander Hamilton. After the death of Alexander Hamilton was when Eliza truly shone. She became a tenacious character. She worked tirelessly to make sure that Alexander Hamilton would not be forgotten and for him to be recognized for his contributions to his country. The authors did an excellent job in showing us that if it wasn’t for Eliza, America would have given him little recognition for his contribution as a Founding Father.
Overall, Alexander Hamilton mostly overshadowed Eliza in this novel. Because America’s First Daughter is one of my favorite books of all time, My Dear Hamilton was one of my most anticipated novels of the year. However, My Dear Hamilton fell far short of my expectations and was not as compelling as America’s First Daughter. I was not emotionally invested in this story and it took me a month to finish the novel. This is because the actions was mostly told to me rather than shown. There were little sensory details so that I felt like I was not experiencing the story, and it struggled to keep my attention. The novel was mostly slow-moving with some rushed parts. I don’t mind a slow novel every once in a while. However, there were many scenes that felt repetitive and could easily have been condensed. The authors did do painstaking research for this novel, and it showed. Their attention to detail is one of the strongest parts of the book. It is sad to say that due to the resurgence of novels focused on Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Eliza because of the Hamilton craze, this novel does not bring anything new to the table. However, My Dear Hamilton still shows a lot of promise and can be enjoyed by any historical fiction lover whether you are a Hamilton fan or not. Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie are definitely talented authors to look forward to in the future and may be included in my list of favorite authors. I have recently bought Stephanie Dray’s Cleopatra’s Daughter trilogy and am excited to devour the series! I can’t wait to read their next work!
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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