My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of a prominent Dutch-American family in upstate New York had no idea all that was in store for her when she met a handsome, ambitious young officer by the name of Alexander Hamilton. Wooed and wed, her life with Hamilton was never boring. From the author's of America's First Daughter, which I read and loved a few months ago, comes the same passionate and thorough imagining of the life of one of the great women of our nation's history.
In the novel, shortly after Hamilton's death, Eliza asks herself "Who was Alexander Hamilton? A traitor or a patriot? A visionary or a fool? A gentleman or a fraud? That's what I wanted to know..."
This quote so perfectly sums up this book. Many of us are at least somewhat familiar with Hamilton's role in history, serving as Washington's first treasurer as our nation was founded with a well-earned reputation for a hot temper and a brilliant mind who was killed young in a duel. This book teaches us much more about him- I learned that he and Eliza together crafted Washington's farewell address that he gave when he left office, which is one of the finest speeches of all time. I learned of Hamilton's integral role in crafting much of our country's early policy. I also learned of Hamilton's unfaithful womanizing ways and of how he kept his family living in poverty to pursue his political dreams. And Eliza- I loved learning of Eliza, of her strength of character, her intelligence, and her ability to persevere through some horrendous hardships, including the death of her first born son in a duel just a few years before Alexander suffered the same fate.
Comparing this to America's First Daughter, I can say that the same wonderful attention to detail and vivid way of bringing a historical figure to life was present. Both were engaging and interesting books, and I enjoyed reading them. Hamilton was hard for me to like, though, whereas Jefferson had been easy for me to embrace fully. So easy that as I heard Hamilton and Eliza rail against Jefferson in this book, I felt personally offended, wanting to yell at them "What you say can't be true! Jefferson is a good man!". Made myself laugh at my own indignation a few times. Hamilton, however, was not a good man, as portrayed in this book, and my heart broke over and over for Eliza, who was a very, very good woman, to have been yoked together with a man beneath what she deserved.
If you read America's First Daughter and enjoyed it, I think you will also enjoy this one. If you have learned a bit about Hamilton's life already and find him a fascinating historical figure, I also think you will enjoy this. If you are interested in the founding fathers and colonial life in America, this is a great one for you too. If you haven't read America's First Daughter and you are debating between the two of them (as they are both quite hefty tomes) I would recommend America's First Daughter over this one, as I devoured it in a weekend, my heart swelling with pride and gratitude to live in a land presided over by a great man and his amazing daughter. This one is slower paced and it took me a lot longer to get through, but is still worth the effort.