My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The story of the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler is not one I know a lot about but I very much enjoyed this fictional account of their romance. It does seem to borrow quite a bit from Pride and Prejudice but, while it’s not the most original or most exciting read, it’s a very sweet period romance.
Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.
1777. Albany, New York.
As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.
Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.
OK, before I start this review I feel like I should really admit that I know next to nothing about American (or British or now I think about it pretty much any) history so I have pretty much no knowledge of Alexander Hamilton. I know there’s a musical which I’m assuming is about him and that loads of people seem to be raving about but I haven’t seen it. What I’m basically saying (in a pretty long winded way) is that I went into this book pretty much blind, with very little knowledge and next to no expectations. I’d seen quite a bit of buzz around it, recognized the author’s name and was just kinda tempted by a historical romance.
I suspect these facts were all to my favor however as a kinda sweet romance set in the eighteenth century is pretty much what I got. If you’re looking for a ground breaking and historically accurate story (or even just a version of the musical) I suspect you will be disappointed (although I’m basing this pretty much on other reviews).
For those like me who are completely clueless, the story is a fictional account of the romance between Alexander Hamilton, aide de camp (personal assistant) to General Washington, and Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of a prominant General. To me it seemed kinda like Pride and Prejudice during the American revolution (stick with me and don’t throw things, I’m not saying it’s as good).
Elizabeth’s mother could certainly give Mrs Bennet a run for her money in the match making department. She’s absolutely determined to marry off her three eldest daughters as they’re a bit short on cash despite having a prominent name. She takes every opportunity to throw them in the path of any eligible man and is not above a bit of marriage arranging. Elizabeth (or Eliza), like her namesake, is the second oldest daughter, the favorite of her father and is determined to marry for love. She’s not as beautiful as her sisters
Jane Angelica and Peggy but she’s more determined, practical and has a bit more common sense.
Unfortunately (or as you’re probably thinking, thank goodness) this is where the similarities to Pride and Prejudice end (well more or less). This does have a little of the social commentary, particularly around the role of women (to marry a wealthy man and have lots of babies), but it lacks a lot of the wit and humor (I know no one can compare to Austen but what the heck I’m comparing them).
It is quite a sweet romance but other than a couple of scandalous incidents, some ungentlemanly behavior and the occasional reference to historical events going on round about them that’s pretty much it.
Eliza wasn’t the most likeable of characters to me. Yes, she’s principled, intelligent and practical but she’s just a little too fanatical about the cause for me and I found myself rolling my eyes when she started preaching to those around her.
Hamilton thankfully makes up for things however and is a very swoon worthy hero (can I say that about a historical figure?). He’s a self made man, a charmer and a bit of a flirt so it was wonderful to see him become so flustered and tongue tied around Eliza (I should add that I have since been on Wikipedia and discovered where his flirting led but let’s not go there).
It didn’t feel like there was a huge amount of story (it’s mostly a ball, a few social occasions, riding around the countryside on horses and Eliza’s efforts to aid the war effort) and it’s not exactly an exciting read but I did enjoy it.
I don’t think there was anything particularly stand out about it and I suspect if you’re a big Hamilton fan you’ll be disappointed but if you like a bit of history and a period romance you’ll probably enjoy this.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy. As always all views are my own.