Probably inspired by the wildly popular musical Hamilton, the novel My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tells the story of controversial United States statesman and founding father Alexander Hamilton through the eyes of his wife Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.
I love to learn history via novels. It is always so much more real to me, and therefore I remember everything so much more easily. It is always necessary to keep the fact that it is a novel in mind so that you don’t assume that every teeny tiny part of the story is true. Eliza Schuyler, for example, simply couldn’t have been as perfect as the story lets on.
Eliza Schuyler was defined by the men in her life. She is the daughter of a strong general who fought in the Revolutionary War. From him she learned to be a patriot, to think for herself, and to do what it takes to help fight for the nation’s independence.
She marries handsome Alexander Hamilton, and then spends the rest of her marriage as his soundboard and his helpmate. Well, except for the times when he was having affairs.
The authors might have spent a bit too much time talking about Alexander Hamilton for a novel that purports to tell the story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton. Still, I learned a lot about the early days of the nation’s history, about the creation of the Federalist Papers, and Hamilton’s role.
The pivotal story of Hamilton’s life, of course, is the duel against Aaron Burr, a duel that he unfortunately lost. The truth about whether or not he wanted to duel, and whether or not he fired a shot remains to be seen. Even in this novel, while he told his wife he didn’t fire a shot, she doubts the truth of his statement.
It’s a good story, if a bit long. Quite a bit too long, in fact. I found myself doing a lot of skimming as the story went on and on. Still, it was a fascinating time in our nation’s history, and seeing the story from a woman’s view is a welcome change of pace.