Lately, when I read, I am thrilled to find some little connection in the story to my own life. It makes the story all that more interesting for me. Sometimes, it is a character that I can relate to. Other times, it is a place or a subject matter that is dear to my heart (usually something nature related).
This just happened again while reading, The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs (2016). My mom gave me the book (brand new) when we were recently at her house for a visit. She knows historical fiction is my favorite genre and I’ve read some wonderful, extremely well written stories of late in that realm. See my posts on The Women of Copper Country and In the Heart of the Sea: The Story of the Whaleship Essex for more details on those books.
But, this book, The Hamilton Affair, was different. I have not seen Hamilton, The Musical and until reading this novel, remained very much in the dark about this particular Founding Father. Certainly, I remembered some things about him from past history courses, but they date back to high school. And, now, I might have cause to question their accuracy or, at least, if they were presented with prejudice.
Last week, having finished another mystery novel by Ruth Ware, that was also very good, I turned to this new book on my nightstand. I have to admit, the first few pages were rough. I even complained to my husband that I might not be able to get through it. Some of the prose seemed “fake” or “cliche” and not up to the standard of writing that I had recently experienced. But, I stuck with it. And, boy, am I glad I did! The book, recounting the life of Alexander Hamilton, turned out to be an excellent read, a well told story, and something I could not put down! In addition, it is well written; I had judged too quickly!
Instead of spoiling the tale, just in case there are others out there, like me, who don’t know the story of Hamilton as told through the musical, I’ll share what connections I found to this story that made it all that much more special for me.
New York Counties – What’s in a Name?
Not too far into the book, I realized that many of our counties in the State of New York were probably named after the men I was reading about in this novel. For example, Schuyler County is named after General Phillip Schuyler a prominent figure in the American Revolution and our early senate. He is an integral part of the Hamilton story. And, of course, there is a county named after Alexander Hamilton, too, as well as many other prominent, real life characters in this book. I grew up in Monroe County, named after James Monroe.
The Iroquois nation also figures into the story of Hamilton, although, loosely. But, many of the counties in New York also arise from Native American words used by the Iroquois Nation. I hope that is something that is never changed. The names honor the Iroquois.
As I read further, I was reintroduced to places I’ve been able to visit, most notably Philadelphia and New York City. You see, this story takes place before our nation’s capitol was in Washington, D.C.. But, did you know Hamilton was an integral part of the reason that D.C. is our capitol? He was!
Much of the later part of the story, takes place in New York. The part that intrigued me the most was picturing how Wall Street must have looked then as opposed to now and the prominence of Trinity Church and graveyard. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Trinity Church, you would realize the connection I felt when reading about this location in the story. It is a centuries old building tucked in amongst new sky scrapers and bustling streets. However, the graveyard is still there. I spent some time wandering through its centuries old tombstones on a visit to New York in 2013.
I first formed an attachment to Trinity Church when I read the James Michener novel, New York. It was just before we went on the trip to New York City. I was thrilled to be reading about it again in this novel.
I would highly recommend you read with connections in mind. It gives you a sense of your own history and makes the story that much more enjoyable. I would also highly recommend this book, The Hamilton Affair. It is OUR collective history, as Americans, no matter which side of the aisle you identify with now. And, the turbulence we’ve recently experienced? Unfortunately, it is centuries old! Just read the book and you’ll know.
Today is Slice of Tuesday! March is the Slice of Life Story Challenge! There is still time to sign up. You can check the hosts of these writing forums, TwoWritingTeachers.org for more information. Thank you to them for starting and continuing this wonderful tradition!