First Lines: The promise of liberty is not written in blood or engraved in stone; it’s embroidered into the fabric of our nation. And so is Alexander Hamilton. My husband. My hero. My betrayer.
I know this isn’t YA, but I figured there were enough of us who were interested in Hamilton that this would be worth hearing about. This book has been sitting on my shelf for over a year, just waiting to be picked up. I’m not really sure what I was waiting for, but it was finally time.
As a general’s daughter, Elizabeth Schuyler is no stranger to war. Which is a good thing as she has to navigate the treacherous lands in New York during the Revolution and engage in her own battle of wits against the handsome aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton. She’s captivated by his brilliance and charisma, him by her sincerity and bravery. But finding love and the end of the war doesn’t mean happily ever after for the Hamiltons, as Alexander fights to make the union the country he knows it can be–if only everyone would stop fighting him at every turn. It only gets harder when scandals rock the family…
I got my hands on America’s First Daughter (which focuses on Thomas Jefferson’s daughter) a few years back and I was swept away by it. The way it showed a different perspective on the events and people I thought I knew so well. The details, the close connection to history, the way it didn’t shy away from painful truths.
This book did the exact same thing.
Like many people drawn to this book, I’m a big fan of Hamilton. And because of that, I was familiar with the arc of this story as well as the main players that don’t otherwise get talked about much in history (John Laurens, James Madison, Aaron Burr). I was very interested in seeing this all through Eliza’s eyes, especially knowing how everything ended.
It was incredibly fascinating and showed me so many different sides of characters/historical figures that I didn’t previously know about. The authors say multiple times that much of the dialogue is taken straight from writings by the people, as to stay as close to who they were as possible. And I do believe they succeeded in what what probably a daunting venture.
Eliza is far more than I ever thought of her before, even from the musical. Eliza is adventurous and bold. Maybe she’s not as witty as Angelica or as daring as Peggy, but Eliza’s spirit is balanced by her good heart and her sense of fairness, which made her a much better equal to Alexander. Where he was a raging wildfire, constantly in motion, she was a slow-burning but constant flame that tempered Alexander’s. And we get to see that play out so well.
While the courtship and their marriage was definitely something I wanted to read, I found myself so much more absorbed in what life was like for the Hamiltons after the Revolution, as political parties began to fracture the country and as Alexander was a constant target of every snide remark and put-down. The changing alliances, the politics of the era…there are a number of times it seemed to mirror where our country is now in many ways. It was somewhat comforting to see that and know that the country has weathered things like this before, but it was also disheartening to know that sometimes these things never change.
What kind of snuck up on me was the fact that this story is incredibly emotional, and sometimes in ways you’re not expecting. I read about half of the book in one day and the second half of the book was constantly making me cry. Sometimes I knew it was going to be coming, but other times it was unexpected or I thought I’d prepared myself for it and it hit me a different way than I’d thought. I was not at all ready for that roller coaster, but I enjoyed it.
I have definitely walked away from this book with a different perspective on the time period and people like Madison and Jefferson. Jokes and witty rap battles aside, I lost a significant amount of respect for Jefferson throughout this book. I know the perspective is biased, but there are some facts that don’t change regardless of who’s doing the telling.
Lovely book. I’m so glad I read this.