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Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washington    by Mary Higgins Clark order for
Mount Vernon Love Story
by Mary Higgins Clark
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Rumors have flourished over the years about the true relationship between George and Martha Washington. In Mount Vernon Love Story, Mary Higgins Clark applies extensive historical research to create a fictional account of a love story for the ages. The book includes pictures of various paintings of George, Patsy, Mount Vernon, and other scenes. For those who have only seen Washington's famous portrait on the dollar bill, these give a glimpse into the real person, his home and family.

This story moves back and forth between two eras -1797 as George is leaving the office of President, and George as a young boy from 1745 onwards. The novel depicts George's difficult early life on Ferry Farm and his travels to his half brother's estate of Mount Vernon. George longs to be free of his mother's tight control and to live on a large plantation. Eventually he pursues the career of surveyor and meets George William Fairfax and his beautiful wife, Sally Carey Fairfax. George and George William become best friends through many heartaches and losses. Although George Washington secretly gives his heart to Sally, their relationship does not stray beyond friendship.

George enters the military and gains renown. During a party, he meets Mrs. Martha 'Patsy' Custis, and he gets to know her and her two young children. After Mrs. Custis is widowed, he visits their home, The White House, where he wins the hearts of little Patsy and Jacky. The development of their relationship is a sweet romance, full of joy. Athough not the loveless marriage that has often been portrayed, George and Patsy's life together is not without trial. They are affected by illness, separation, and disagreement about the extent of George's involvement in the discipline of his step-children. Even though these historical figures are often put on a pedestal, they are revealed here as real people who loved, hurt, and experienced tragedy. I was surprised to learn that many issues relevant today (including problems with step-parenting) were around in the 1700's.

Although technically a work of fiction, Mount Vernon Love Story reads like a biography of George Washington, though focusing on his friends and family (there is not much detail either of his military career or his life as President.) I felt like I got to know George Washington as a real person, rather than a political figure. I highly recommend this novel. As can be expected from Mary Higgins Clark, it is well written and a delight to read. Pick it up to gain insight into the history of the United States and to read about genuine people who lived during the 1700s.

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