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Book Review: ‘I, Eliza Hamilton,’ by Susan Holloway Scott

I once found this book in a used bookstore and got it for $3—what a bargain! I’m obsessed with the Hamilton musical, and my favorite character is Eliza, Hamilton’s wife, who is this novel’s main character. Historical fiction is my favorite genre of books to read, so I thought it would be a good book for me…


…little did I know how beautiful and amazing this book would be. (P.S. Some spoilers are below, so read at your own risk!)


The book starts out with Eliza as a 22-year-old single woman in the midst of the Revolutionary War. She meets young Alexander Hamilton at one of her father’s parties. They talk for a bit but ultimately part ways when the party ends. Their first scene together had me laughing out loud at Alexander’s quick wit and Eliza’s admiration of a man she barely knows. They quickly fell in love and the rest is history—except it’s not—because they’re in the middle of a war. And Alexander, as the right-hand man to none other than General George Washington, is called away on business a lot, which leaves poor Eliza to wonder about his safety all the time. 


I admire how Ms. Scott was able to portray Eliza’s anguish at Alexander’s absences so realistically. In my head, I could picture how worried she was constantly, and in her shoes, I would probably feel the same way. This was a constant problem throughout their marriage, and I like how readers see them both actively face the issue. Alexander stays around as much as he possibly can, but Eliza hopes for more.


I loved seeing how different their parenting styles were with their children. Alexander dotes on his kids, giving them basically whatever they wanted despite their money struggles for a short amount of time, while Eliza is more of a disciplinarian. I also loved how Alexander’s past affected his parenting style, which is why he tries to spoil his kids. As an orphan, he didn’t have anything, and he doesn’t want his kids to be deprived of anything. It was so sweet!


The writing style was beautiful, and I could feel what the characters felt. Ms. Scott has a way with words that makes her characters feel so alive, and I hope to write my own novel in that manner. 


One thing I didn’t like about the plot was how quickly Eliza forgave Alexander for his infidelity. I think she should’ve given him a much better fight. I know if I had a partner who cheated on me, I wouldn’t be quick to forgive. She was mad for a short amount of time, then went straight back to him without any rebuilding of trust, which I thought was unrealistic. 


I also thought the ending was very abrupt. I could’ve used another few chapters about Eliza’s life after Alexander died. We didn’t get to see the duel or the cause of the duel. Historically, I know what Eliza did after Alexander died, but I would’ve liked to see the author’s representation of her deeds.     


All around, I think this is a wonderful book for historical fiction lovers. Also, never before have I cried so much at the ending of a book. Yes, it was abrupt, but I think it worsened the blow. 


I recommend this book to anyone who loves the Hamilton musical or is an American history buff. If you ever see this book, pick it up because you won’t regret it. Thanks for reading!  

Grace Olson

Winona '21

Hi! I'm Grace Olson.
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