Monday, April 16, 2018

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie - TLC Book Review

My Dear Hamilton 

by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

My Dear Hamilton

• Hardcover: 672 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (April 3, 2018)

The Publisher's Summary
*highlighted in red are the tidbits that piqued my interest in reading My Dear Hamilton*

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. In this haunting, moving, and beautifully written novel, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…
Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife…
But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…
When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Historical fiction
U.S. history
female lead
an important woman whose name has been left out of history 

First Impressions

I just read another review that mentioned the book was 600 pages long...I never noticed, y'all. 
I'm not exaggerating.
I was hooked from the first lines.

Golden Lines

I was someone before I met Alexander Hamilton. (11)

Semper Fidelis. Always faithful. Always loyal. (23)

Virginians are preposterous creatures, I thought for the first, but not the last time. (47)

He took a breath, then stared off into the distance.  "I begin to hate the country for neglecting us.  Our soldiers are left to suffer.  Our ideals of true equality are scorned.  And men without talent or integrity are unjustly advanced.  Schemers and slanderers - " He blinked, as if remembering himself.  "None of which, of course, is proper conversation for a ball." (84)

"It must all be done right between us.  I must write for your father's blessing." 
"He might not give it," I admitted.
But Hamilton replied, "I am told I am very persuasive with a pen.  Especially when I want something.  And I want you." (118-119)


While Alexander wolfed down his dinner and worked out more calculations, I copied his notes for hours, concentrating on my penmanship, until my eyes glazed over from recording lengthy discussions of generating revenue, paying the military, currency depreciation, foreign credit, and instituting a national bank. (163)

It was a reminder of all the different sorts of people who had taken part in our revolution. Black and white. Slaves and free. Indians and immigrants. Rich and poor.  
Women, too. (215)

"Betsy." Some emotion seemed to catch  in his throat and afflict his tongue.  "I would never wish for you to suffer..." He stammered as if unable to spit it out, until he blurted, "There are still those amongst us who give a care for propriety." (236)

He will not be bound by even the most solemn of all obligations! Wedlock (267)

That summer.
What did Eliza know? (303)

"All you do is fight," I whispered. "You fight Jefferson, you fight Madison, and Burr.  You fight the Jacobins, the Clintons, the Livingstons, the newspapers, the Congress, the French ambassador - " (332)

"Bring out your dead!" (335)

"Eliza, this is the way of honor with gentlemen."
"If it's honor that you value, then perhaps you ought to guard the esteem your country still has for you by not offering to brawl in the streets like a madman." (375)

But six of the most talented men in America had turned down the post of secretary of state simply because the irrational calumny heaped upon the heads of public officials was so calculated and unrelenting as to put a man and his family in fear for their lives. (382)

"You're a shameless woman, Eliza Hamilton." (422)

Captain Eacker had grabbed my son by the collar and called him a rascal.  Rascal.  A word which, when spoken by one gentleman to another, demanded bloodshed. (463)

...I gathered my darling babies around me and somehow uttered the words, "Your father is dying, my little loves.  And now we must say farewell." (490)

They'd murdered my husband. They'd taken him from me.  But I still had his words, and they were my solace.  Hamilton could still speak to me through those pages.  His love letters.  His ideas.  His essays.  Thousands of pages. (504)

So the Orphan Asylum Society was born.  Because some life must grow up from amongst all this death and sacrifice.  And I was done with losing things. (519)

Don't tell Betsy, Alexander.
Never confess it.
Not even if I am dead. (545)

"Forgive my friend, Hamilton," Lafayette said, as if he'd sensed the softening in me toward the man without whom I supposed I could have never become who I was. (591)

My Reading Response

What/Who I Liked

the authors' "Notes to the Reader" in the beginning and the "Note from the Authors" in the end.  The authors give full disclosure to their readers on the information they used in their story, the places they traveled, the gaps they filled where necessary, and their writing and researching methods.  I was sooooo impressed by these sections.

General Schuyler - Eliza's father - a lot of Eliza's depth you will see in her father and the way she and her sisters were raised.  They weren't raised to be "ninnies"...flitting around with parasols.  They could play the part when necessary, but they were made of deeper "stuff."  They could bend, but they didn't matter how hard life got.  They understood the world around them and actively participated in it.  Their connections with the Native American tribes in upstate New York and their abilities to run a household as well as medical treatment when needed would scare even some of the toughest ladies today.
They truly stood as examples of the words "patriot" and "family."

the Marquis de Lafayette - I'm going to be honest here...I don't remember much about the Marquis from my history classes...and that's a shame.  I'm working hard to remedy that.

General Washington - certainly I've always felt our first president must have been a man of honor and most of the stories I've heard and history I've studied has backed up this assumption...but again, I wasn't prepared for the pride I would feel as I read My Dear Hamilton at the depth and length of the lives sacrificed for our country's independence.  And I don't just mean those who died.
From the top to the bottom...great men and women to those in their fields and homes, Native Americans, African Americans, and American immigrants from all over the world...they had to know they probably would not see the fruits of the labors.
Yet, they did it anyway.

Alexander Hamilton - a rascal for sure, and a man who literally shot his nose off to spite his face *insert eye roll*
but, my goodness you can't help but like this character...he was a scrapper, a regular person, born of questionable family ties, desperate to make a name for himself, intelligent past what would have been expected a man of his "breeding" - a writer - an orator - a man who really deep down cared about independence and the common man.
A man who despite all the admirable characteristics...was majorly fallible.  He let his emotions get the best of him at times...but he still loved his family.  He did everything he did with passion.  And fought right alongside Washington who was his calm side but just as passionate...if that makes any sense.

Martha Washington - oh, I want so much to know her better - I've scoured GoodReads to find more.

The romance - y'all, I didn't want to like the romance...and I usually snarl at any indication that a story will include too much of it...but Eliza and Alexander's story is just about as epic of a romance as a reader could ever hope to take in.  The word "romance" doesn't really do their story justice...we all know how it ends, but even my clear, logical head was rooting for Alexander to come to his senses and decide at the last minute not to go to Weehawken that fated morning.
I got swept off my feet, y'all. 
My cheeks are a little pink here.

After the war ended - Am I the only one who thought everything was great once the war ended?  Until the Civil War?
*eyes rolling again*
I so enjoyed that as Alexander and Eliza's story unfolded, the reader also gets to see a young country become her own.  There were only 13 colonies of course, and it was difficult enough to get them all to agree on how to organize and sustain what they had fought so valiantly for...imagine if they knew then what we have now?? 

The Schuyler sisters - no wonder there's currently a huge Broadway hit that brings these ladies to light.
No perfect relationships here for sure, but they were their father's daughters.  And they could stand on their own.

The descriptions of early New York - the daily shopping, the wharf, the young country, a burgeoning population...I'm a sucker for rich description, and Dray & Kamoie do not disappoint.

Eliza's life after Hamilton's death - while Alexander Hamilton certainly played a huge part in who Eliza Hamilton was...and we probably would have never heard her name without his existence tied to her - I truly enjoyed her life after his.  That she did not just crawl away and live in shame is again a testament to the father who raised her.  She didn't back down, she didn't hide from people nor the truth, she still worked for "the cause," and despite everything he put her through, she still honored Hamilton's name and made sure he would not be forgotten.  Turns out she might have been even more of a friend to his name than he was to hers. 

What/Who I Didn't Like

General Benedict Arnold - do I have to explain this?

the politics - I was disappointed to see that much of what frustrates me about politics today was alive and well during the battle for Independence.  The treachery, lying, manipulation, backstabbing, scheming, conspiracy...deception played a large part of 

Aaron Burr 

Again, no spoiler that Eliza and Hamilton's relationship was in for some serious challenges.  And to live during this time that even though a woman could divorce her husband for adultery, she would still be ruined by such a decision.  Her children as well.  Not to mention the fact that she loved her husband...and he loved her.  Which seems a ridiculous statement to make. There are no secrets here; it's all a matter of historical record, but Dray and Kamoie made my heart hurt for Eliza as she began to put the pieces together both before and after Hamilton's death.  

The Google Factor (I'm a nerd)

The Iroquois - The Oneida (first allies of the Americans)
Six Nations
Two Kettles Together 
Colonel Tench Tilghman
New Netherland
Major John Andre'
The Pastures 

Pinkster festivities

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison - Congress of the Confederation alliances
The Federalist
Dolley Payne Todd - Quaker
Ratification of the Constitution

James Armistead

The Bank of New York
African Free School
Manumission Society

Shay's rebellion

Articles of Confederation revision
Washington's Inauguration
Governor Clinton
Secretary, Thomas Jefferson

Vice President, John Adams
Abigail Adams
slavery after the Revolutionary War

Maria Reynolds

the French Revolution

Yellow Fever, Philadelphia 1793
Hamilton's Insurrection

Jefferson and the Republicans

The Alien and Sedition Acts 

Jefferson and Sally Hemmings
The War of 1812

Free School for Young Africans

What Now?

I'm moving right along to America's First Daughter and buying this one in hardback for my keeper shelves!
I'm also contemplating buying 3 extravagantly priced tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway when my youngest daughter, my mom, and me go to New York in May!

The Authors

About Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer and a teacher. Now she lives near the nation’s capital with her husband, cats, and history books.
Find out more about Stephanie at her website, and connect with her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

About Laura Kamoie

Laura Kamoie is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing fiction. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and two daughters.
Find out more about Laura at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Other Tour Stops

Wednesday, April 4th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, April 6th: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.
Friday, April 6th: Instagram: @happiestwhenreading
Monday, April 9th: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 10th: Girls in Books
Wednesday, April 11th: West Metro Mommy
Thursday, April 12th: Reading Reality
Friday, April 13th: The Lit Bitch
Monday, April 16th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, April 17thTina Says…
Wednesday, April 18thCerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, April 19thLiterary Lindsey
Monday, April 23rdDoing Dewey
Tuesday, April 24thInto the Hall of Books
Wednesday, April 25thInstagram: @lavieestbooks
Friday, April 27thInstagram: @_literary_dreamer_


  1. Definitely a lot more to like than to not like in this book as evidenced by your review! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    1. I enjoyed this one so much, Heather!
      Thanks for having me on the tour!

  2. Thank you for reviewing this book! I saw it the other day and it looked like a great book I would love to read. I am adding it to my list!!

  3. I can't say that I thought too much of Alexander Hamilton as portrayed her, but I did enjoy the story of his relationship with Eliza. I did share your enjoyment of her strong personality and her family and I have a particular appreciation for good author's notes. It's so nice to be able to learn from historical fiction and helps when the author distinguishes fact from fiction for you!

    1. Authors' notes are everything with historical fiction I think, especially historical fiction about women. I'm sad that so much has been lost or was never recorded about important women in our history, but with authors like Dray and Kamoie, we can still learn a lot :) (and enjoy a good story at the same time) ;)