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Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
Frederick Law Olmsted is known as the “father of American landscape architecture.” He designed large city public parks as well as the grounds for private estates, academic institutions, and other famous sites. What is not as well-known are the facts about his wife, family, and other elements of his personal life. Olmsted felt obligated to marry his brother’s young widow, who had three young children, and Mary was determined to have a loving marriage. He soon fell deeply in love with her. In a historical novel based on true people and events, researched and penned by Gail Ward Olmsted, a compelling story is told. Landscape of a Marriage: Central Park was only the Beginning comprehensively portrays Fred and Mary’s life together, journeying through their marriage and his highly successful career.
One of the best features of this historical fiction novel is the seamless blend of personal and professional aspects, spanning over forty years of real life. Fred’s business partner and his wife became best friends, presenting challenges when the partnership dissolved. The Olmsteds had a large family which unfortunately suffered great losses. His frequent travels, often stretching for weeks at a time, were challenging for Mary. Author Gail Ward Olmsted writes in a smooth, flowing style, making this a captivating and easy-to-read book. It engages the reader from the first page to the last with its atmosphere and dialogue. Landscape of a Marriage: Central Park was only the Beginning, crafted by Gail Ward Olmsted, is truly a gem. It is a good reminder that talented, accomplished people also have personal lives filled with love, joy, and sadness, not unlike other families. An excellent read!