By: Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 2018
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 19, 2020
Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, authors of the highly successful American's First Daughter, tackle another great topic as they take on the life of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the wife of Alexander Hamilton.
The story opens in 1825 when James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, comes to Harlem, NY to visit Eliza. By this time, Alexander Hamilton has been dead for over twenty years. Why has Monroe come to visit? To understand that, and all the "history" between them, it's necessary to go back in time...
It is now 1777 and the reader is taken back to when Eliza, or Betsy as she was called in her early years, is a young woman living with her parents, General Philip Schuyler and wife Catherine. The family is wealthy and Betsy's biggest worry at the time is that her sister Angelica has run off and eloped. But we soon learn that General Schuyler has been accused of dereliction of duty. As a devoted daughter, Betsy will do whatever she can to help her father, who is later acquitted of the charges.
In 1780, while staying with her aunt in New Jersey, Betsy meets Alexander Hamilton, one of George Washington's aides-de-camp. They'd actually met before, at the Schuyler's house where Hamilton dined with the family - but the courtship begins in earnest in New Jersey. While intrigued by Hamilton's good looks and charm, Eliza is sure that the military man will have no interest in her as she's known around her family as the practical sister and typically ignored by the men who visit. But Hamilton is intrigued by Eliza's knowledge and confidence and they are soon married. The novel follows the couple through the ups and downs of family life, while also delving deeply into Hamilton's contributions to building a new country.
My Dear Hamilton follows the life of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, not just through the more famous episodes such as the writing of The Federalist Papers and the death of her husband, but also through lesser known events such as the death of her eldest son. At just over 600 pages, this is a book that requires a bit of time and dedication by the reader. But that time and dedication will be well-rewarded with the understanding that comes from reading this book. While there is not a lot known about Eliza, and the authors had to use a bit of fiction here and there, overall the story comes across as a very believable version of what happened during the founding of our country. Kudos to the authors for their exhaustive research and for bringing to life the story of a very fascinating woman.
Quill says: For fans of historical fiction, particularly of Revolutionary War history, My Dear Hamilton is a fantastic read.