Mount Vernon Love Story. Finished 4-25-20, 3.5/5 stars, historical fiction, 223 pages, pub. 1968
Always a lover of history, Mary Higgins Clark wrote this extensively researched biographical novel and titled it Aspire to the Heavens, after the motto of George Washington’s mother. Published in 1969, the book was more recently discovered by a Washington family descendant and reissued as Mount Vernon Love Story. Dispelling the widespread belief that although George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, he reserved his true love for Sally Carey Fairfax, his best friend’s wife, Mary Higgins Clark describes the Washington marriage as one full of tenderness and passion, as a bond between two people who shared their lives — even the bitter hardship of a winter in Valley Forge — in every way. In this author’s skilled hands, the history, the love, and the man come fully and dramatically alive. from Goodreads
Mary Higgins Clark’s love for George Washington shines through in this, her first, book. I enjoyed learned more about young Washington’s life through the eyes of a romantic. While she covered the necessary benchmarks of his rise to greatness she also infused these episodes with feeling. How did he feel about the pock marks on his face after small pox? How did he feel after his step daughter died and his Patsy was grieving? Did he really love his wife or was she just a stand in?
I think the fact that this was her first book was evident in the way the story didn’t really have a lot of tension or excitement to keep me turning the pages. This can be excused because Washington is always going to be of interest so the interest was there to continue, but just looking at the storytelling it was a bit lacking.
There was lots of great background and some new insight for me. I might look at this as a gateway or a teaser for those who don’t know a lot about Washington or how he was in love with his best friend’s girl. It will have you wanting to know more. And you will forever think of Martha as Patsy.