L. M. Elliot’s latest brilliant piece of historical fiction for young adults, “Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship,” is a fascinating study of the life and loves of Peggy Schuyler. She was the daughter of a famous Revolutionary War general and counter-intelligence agent, the sister of two equally important women of the era, and the romantic partner of two significant revolutionary and post-revolutionary men.
The Peggy Schuyler of “Hamilton and Peggy” was a woman both very much of her time and very much ahead of her time. She was brilliant, independent, witty, strong — and a victim of the limitations that shackled the women of America in 1776. Elliot provides us enlightening glimpses of Peggy’s courage and strength — a dangerous trip through a deadly storm with enemies all around her; the defense of her home during an attack by British forces; the stubborn, constant support of the cause of the Revolution despite the ubiquitous threats of treasonous and cruel betrayals — like those of Benedict Arnold.
Yet above all, this is a love story: the love of three sisters, all brilliant, all beautiful, all devoted to each other regardless of obstacles and personal difficulties; the love between an idealistic young woman and her father; the loves of that same young woman and the men who felt and returned her passion; and the love of the country and the cause.
Elliot displays a unique talent for framing her story, her fictional events, with pieces of historical fact. In an earlier novel, “Suspect Red,” she began each chapter about events during the McCarthy Era (the 1950s) with actual headlines and articles that appeared during that fearful time. Here, she begins each chapter with a letter, none written by Peggy herself, but each one an important contribution to a real understanding of events surrounding the Revolution, events which describe and clarify Peggy’s character, and events which help us to understand the feelings, the beliefs, the motivations, and the actions of the people who made America possible: Hamilton, Washington, General Schuyler, Burr, Arnold, Lafayette — and the incredible Schuyler sisters.
Finally, “Hamilton and Peggy” is a must-read for all of us who want to comprehend the significance of the #MeToo movement. And that should be all of us. Peggy Schuyler represents every woman who aspires to be everything she can be, and her life is a lesson we cannot afford to ignore. (JK)
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, for review purposes.