Alex & Eliza: Review
You know that I'm an obsessive Hamilton fan, right? That I can sing all of the songs from the Hamilton cast album AND the mix-tape? I've been so excited by the recent influx of historical fiction novels about Alexander Hamilton and the strong and important women in his life- like Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz. It's an extremely sweet love story and gave me all of the feels!
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.
Alex & Eliza is historical fiction, with a few creative liberties taken by the author. For anyone who is familiar with their story, Elizabeth Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton's romance was a swoon-worthy one, full of mutual respect. When I started this book, I found it very slow and that's because I went into it with the wrong mindset. I went into it expecting... something akin to Hamilton fanfiction, I think. The fact that the Elizabeth Schuyler that de la Cruz wrote was so different from the Elizabeth Schuyler portrayed by Philippa Soo and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda completely threw me off. I struggled a bit in the first couple of chapters to wrap my head around these brand new, yet entirely familiar, characters. We have Angelica and Peggy, Lafayette and Laurens, and of course Alexander Hamilton himself.
The book alternates from Alex's and Eliza's perspectives. This is especially important if you're familiar with their legacy. Since Alexander died so young with his reputation sullied, much of what we know about his legacy and the Hamilton name was carried on by his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton. With a keen and intelligent mind, Eliza organized all of Alexander's writings, got his biography published, and dedicated her life to charity work. Giving Eliza agency in the growth of this relationship is incredibly poignant- she was not just some girl who fell head over heels for a handsome commanding officer. She was a headstrong young woman dedicated to the Union, with an intelligence to match Hamilton's.
Once I got out of my head a little, I was able to fully enjoy Alex & Eliza and, *surprise* I loved it. The characters are all incredibly lovable and developed. What I love about historical fiction is its ability to breathe life into figures we may only know from textbooks- to give them emotions and motivations and shortcomings. To make them more relatable. De la Cruz accomplished all of that with Alex & Eliza, most notably with the two protagonists. Alex and Eliza's relationship developed with the slowest burn ever, and it was deliciously enticing. Another detail that I loved from this book was the dialogue and language. It pays homage to the dialect and vocabulary of the time and even includes snippets from Hamilton's letters to add even more of a historical flavor to the book.
I rate Alex & Eliza 4/5 stars!
The sequel, called Love & War, releases on April 17th, 2018 and you can keep an eye out for my review soon! It documents the more tumultuous moments in Alexander and Elizabeth's relationship and I am here for it!
Plus, come back on April 4th because I have an exciting DIY tutorial planned for you as part of the Alex & Eliza blog tour! Ever wonder how to make your very own bookish soap? I've got an easy recipe for you inspired by Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler that you won't want to miss.