Book Theme: Hamilton

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Summary: 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.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. The pacing of the story and the development of the relationship between Eliza and Alexander is really well-done. Even though I knew how it would end, the tension I felt when someone came in between the two was real. I only wish that the book had provided an example of how Hamilton wrote his way into Eliza’s heart. That is something that is very prominent in anything I hear about their relationship, and it’s not shown in this book. Also, there are a few times when lines from the musical make their way into the story, and that kind of threw me out of the reading. As another reviewer stated, at times, the story felt like a fanfiction of the musical.

Rating: 4/5

I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

Summary: As the daughter of a respected general, Elizabeth Schuyler is accustomed to socializing with dignitaries and soldiers. But no visitor to her parents’ home has affected her so strongly as Alexander Hamilton, a charismatic, ambitious aide to George Washington. They marry quickly, and despite the tumult of the American Revolution, Eliza is confident in her brilliant husband and in her role as his helpmate. But it is in the aftermath of war, as Hamilton becomes one of the country’s most important figures, that she truly comes into her own.

In the new capital, Eliza becomes an adored member of society, respected for her fierce devotion to Hamilton as well as her grace. Behind closed doors, she astutely manages their expanding household, and assists her husband with his political writings. Yet some challenges are impossible to prepare for. Through public scandal, betrayal, personal heartbreak, and tragedy, she is tested again and again. In the end, it will be Eliza’s indomitable strength that makes her not only Hamilton’s most crucial ally in life, but his most loyal advocate after his death, determined to preserve his legacy while pursuing her own extraordinary path through the nation they helped shape together.

Thoughts: It took me many weeks to get to the fifth chapter, and I just couldn’t finish it. While I like historical fiction, I am not a fan of many romance novels. The novel begins by heavily focusing on this aspect of the characters, and unfortunately, it’s all done through the mind of Eliza. This would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that she seems like a damsel who only cares about who she can marry. While the novel did seem like it would cover more than just their relationship, the beginning didn’t hold my attention and I couldn’t move past it.

Rating: DNF; I may try to revisit this one later, but I may stick to other Hamilton stories.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Summary: In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

Thoughts: Even though I am still in the early stages of Hamilton’s time in America, this biography has done a great job in capturing and keeping my interest. While I went into the books hoping to find connections between Hamilton’s real life and the fictionalized Hamilton in the musical, I stayed because of Chernow’s writing. He manages to take the facts he has discovered about Hamilton and weave them into an engaging story.

Rating: In Process; No matter what I will finish this. History has always been one of my favorite subjects, and I can understand what drew Lin Manuel Miranda to this biography. 

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