The Hamilton Affair: A Novel
I’m hesitant to say that I have an obsession or an addiction to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical masterwork Hamilton: An American Musical; I prefer to say that I have a relationship. I listen to the soundtrack obsessively, I’ve read Chernow’s source material, I’ve watched most of the #Ham4Hams, the usual. So when I wandered into my library the other week and saw this book on the New Releases shelf, I picked it up without a second thought.
A fictionalised account of Alexander Hamilton and wife Eliza Schyuler Hamilton’s love story, The Hamilton Affair covers most of the same ground as the musical, but focuses almost exclusively on Eliza. We meet her in her childhood, getting into her head and understanding her motivations more than any other work I’ve encountered. We read of her frustration with being constantly pregnant with an absent husband, but her staunch belief that his brilliance will save both America and the world. We also get to read about how physically in love with her he was – always struggling to keep his hands off of her and how his affair with Mariah Reynolds destroyed so much of his understanding of himself.
While it’s not nearly as emotive as the musical, it’s more informative and fills in blanks. I do wish it would have given us a little more of Eliza’s life after Alexander (she lived another 50 years after his assassination), and a little more of her relationship with Angelica (which is largely sidelined in this work), but overall this is a satisfying read.