REVIEW: Dear George, Dear Mary by Mary Calvi

deargeorgePages: 336

Genres: Historical Fiction

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

Review:
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way impacts my reviewMany thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the chance to read an early copy.

Dear George, Dear Mary presented a very compelling story in its blurb—the story of George Washington’s relationship with his first love, Mary Philipse, sourced almost entirely from letters and diary entries the two had written. As a lover of all things historical fiction, and especially historical fiction that sticks close to the facts of real events, I was excited for this one. However, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

I often complain when historical fiction books aren’t historically accurate or have too much made up stuff in them; this book suffered from the opposite problem. This book seemed very confused about whether it wanted to be fiction or non-fiction, which took away a lot of the enjoyment for me. When I go into a fiction book, I want story and feelings and relatable or at least sympathetic characters. When I go into a non-fiction book, I expect to learn and absorb a lot of information. With this book, which couldn’t make up its mind, you lost some of the feeling/emotion of good fiction but also lost the “facts” of the non-fiction among the story.

Those were my main two issues with this book. I didn’t feel very connected to Mary OR George, despite the fact that this was a love story and should have had some romance/swooning involved, and I also got REALLY bored and zoned out everything there was a long passage quoted from a historical document. A snippet of a letter from Mary to George or vice versa would have been a nice touch every once in a while in this book, but I didn’t need long passages quoted from all of George’s letters to other military officials, especially when they had nothing to do with the main plot of the story. They bogged down the story and made it harder to read, which is quite a shame. I had never heard of Mary Philipse before, but it sounds like she had a really interesting life and her relationship with George actually seemed more profound than the one she had with her husband or that George had with Martha. I wish I had enjoyed learning about her more.

Overall, I just wish Calvi would have been more decisive in writing either a historical FICTION book that focused on the romance and relationship of George and Mary or just said she was doing a non-fiction book on this and focused on the academic/historical source side of the book. I feel if she’d focused on the feelings of Mary and George’s relationship more, I would have felt more connection to the characters and enjoyed this book much more immensely, just as I would have enjoyed it more if she made it entirely non-fiction and I went into this with the intent to read a non-fiction book and learn about the pair in an academic sense.

I give this book a 2.5/5 stars. It gets props for the interesting subject matter and for the few chapters where we actually saw Mary and George interacting, because I greatly enjoyed those, but the rest of the book falls flat for a lack of character development and dry passages that quote directly from historical sources. I wanted more story or more non-fiction, but this mix of both didn’t work for me, unfortunately.

Rating: 2.5/5

2 star review rating

Where to find this book:


Let’s Chat!

Have you read any good historical fiction books lately? Are you a fan of revolution-era historical fiction?

January Wrap-Up and February TBR

Hello all! The first month of the year has come and gone. This January surprisingly isn’t going by as fast as I felt last year’s did, but that’s okay! It gives me more time to enjoy the year 🙂

I’m here today to wrap up my reading month, so here we go!

Books

This month, I read a total of 5 books, which is pretty much the average amount I’d usually read, but also puts me about one book ahead of schedule for my Goodreads Challenge (which is admittedly lower than it probably should be). These were the books:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray (3.5⭐)
  • Dear George, Dear Mary by Mary Calvi (2.5⭐)
  • Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4⭐)
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (2.5⭐)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (5⭐)

Honestly, it was kind of a “meh” month in terms of the quality of the books I read. Most books I felt pretty indifferent about, or just didn’t care for all that much. Harry Potter was obviously a 5 star read, but I’ve read that book a million times, so it doesn’t quite count the same way that a 5 star, new-to-me book would. Maybe In Another Life turned out to be a pretty good read as well, but that was about it in terms of what I enjoyed.

(Also, wildly unpopular opinion, but pls don’t hate me: I just wasn’t a huge fan of The Cruel Prince)

I was expecting most of these books to be much better than they turned out to be, but I guess that’s just how things go sometimes. At least I know I can only improve from here in February and the rest of the year!

Stats

  • Pages Read: 2,099
  • Most Pages in a Day: 216 (A new personal record!)
  • Days Read: 29/31
  • Average Rating: 3.50⭐
  • Number of 5 Star Reads: 1, but it was Harry Potter so does that even count?

ICYMI: My Favorite Posts of the Month

Here were my top three posts this month:

February TBR

TBR’s stress me out to no end and I was going to stop doing them this year, but I actually know what a few of my February books will be, just because I’m already in the middle of them and have some planned. Here’s what my reading schedule for early in the month looks like:

  • Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
  • Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee
  • The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

As you can see, it’s going to be a very Mackenzi Lee focused month, at least to start off. I’m also hoping to continue my reread of Harry Potter by getting to Goblet of Fire this month, but we will see if that is accomplished.


Let’s Chat!

Tell me all about your January reading! Did you start off the year in a bit of a slump like me? Or were all of your books amazing? What are you hoping to read next month?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent TBR Additions

Hey everyone! Today I’m doing the Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! Now, it is Thursday? Maybe. But did I have a lot to do this week? It’s the start of my spring semester and we’re in the middle of a -50 degree polar vortex, so I’m going to say yes and that I get a pass.

The topic this week was most recent TBR additions, so I’m going to take you through the last 10 books that I added to my Goodreads Want-To-Read shelf. Honestly, there’s probably books in my head that I’ve added more recently, but Goodreads is the only record I have, so we’re going with that.

I’m starting with my 10th most recently added book and working my way up, so let’s get started!

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

I first saw this book in a Goodreads newsletter, and the cover immediately grabbed me. When I checked out the blurb, I was even more intrigued. The 1920’s time period is one of my favorite things to find in books, and the fact that this book is supposed to have a bit of a thriller element to it makes me even more excited for it.

The paragon hotel book cover

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

I saw this book when I was browsing the books for Book of the Month and added it to my TBR, even if I can’t buy it anytime soon. This book sounds magical and steeped in fantasy, and I want to read it now. I also have never read an Asian-inspired fantasy, but really really want to, and this sounds like a good one to start with.

The Night Tiger book cover

Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg

This book was my Prime First Reads pick on Amazon for the month! I don’t always download a First Reads book every month, since they don’t always capture my attention, but I’ve heard great things about Holmberg’s other series and I figured I might as well download this one for free. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy it.

Smoke and Summons book cover

Semper Augustus by Mackenzi Lee

I talked about this book in a previous post on my most anticipated 2019 reads.  It’s pretty much the ONE book I absolutely NEED to read this year, so that’s why it’s on my TBR.

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

I have no idea where I found this book or when I added it to my TBR but I definitely know why I did when I read over the blurb. It’s about a stranded time-traveler struggling to come to terms with the fact that he has a family he doesn’t want to leave in the 1990’s, but also one in the future, where he belongs. For whatever reason, I thought immediately that this book sounds like a dark version of Phil of the Future and I absolutely loved that show as a kid, which makes me more excited for this book.

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is another book I talked about in my 2019 anticipated reads post! I love Taylor Jenkins Reid books and I know I’m going to adore her latest as well. I should have probably added this book to my TBR months ago, but it was a recent addition to my Goodreads shelf just because I suck at remembering to add books I want to read to my Goodreads shelf sometimes.

Daisy Jones and the Six book cover

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

This book is another highly anticipated 2019 read, and that’s because it’s got vampires and a New Orleans setting and is historical fiction! It truly sounds like a very unique spin on the vampire trope and I can’t wait to dive in when it comes out.

The Beautiful book cover

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

I don’t quite remember why I added this book to my TBR, and I actually have no recollection of doing so (does that happen to anyone else?) but upon reading the blurb again, it makes a lot of sense why I would have added it. A 1940’s love story (set in New York!!!) that deals with a 20-something’s struggles? It sounds like the perfect historical fiction book for me.

City of Girls book cover

The Illumination of Ursala Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

Someone I’m friends with on Goodreads (I apologize for not remembering who) marked that they were reading this book a few weeks back and I just had to add it when I saw the gorgeous cover. The blurb is a bit sparse, but what it does reveal also sounds interesting, so it’s a book I’ll have to pick up from the library someday.

The Illumination of Ursala Flight book cover

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

This book came up in an email from Netgalley, and I’ll be honest, a book about a girl who wants to live her life with only her cat and her books sounds like it will be pretty relatable. I requested this book from Netgalley immediately (fingers crossed, since I haven’t heard back yet!), but even if they don’t grant me an ARC, I’ll find a way to read it when it comes out.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill book cover


Let’s Chat!

What books have you guys added to your TBR lately? Are any of these books on your want-to-read list?