The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton


Fiction - Historical - Personage
207 Pages
Reviewed on 06/26/2020
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Author Biography

Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies. She is a novelist and a poet. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews has called her "an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer." Publishers Weekly called her novel, ISLAND ON FIRE, "a memorable romantic thriller", her novel RACE TO TIBET, “a thrilling yarn,” and her TRANSFER DAY, “a page-turner with emotional resonance.” Her latest novel is THE LOST DIARY OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, about Hamilton's lost boyhood in the Caribbean. She graduated from American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Given the enthusiasm for and the celebration of the life of a lesser-known member of the “Founding Fathers” in the U.S. over the past five years, The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton by Sophie Schiller has come at a most propitious time. Yes, this is a work of fiction but it also gives us a fascinating insight into the early life of a man who played such a fundamental role in the founding of the United States of America. Young Alexander was born into poverty in the West Indies. His mother, the daughter of a well-to-do family, had married poorly and was unable to divorce her wastrel husband on the island on which they lived, which was ruled by the Danes. Alexander and his brother were, therefore, in the eyes of the law, illegitimate and this fact was to prove pivotal in young Alexander’s future endeavors. His illegitimacy would prove to be just another handicap in a life of struggle that will see him come into conflict with the law over a dear slave friend, as well as having to deal with the effects of being viewed by society as something less than those whose birth was legitimate. Alexander would rise to the challenges and seek his future elsewhere from the islands of his birth.

The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton is a wonderful read for those of us who have an innate history bent. The musical “Hamilton” has brought the impact of this man in the founding of America sharply into our consciousness. But what author Sophie Schiller has skillfully done here is to take what little is known about Alexander’s early life and fashion a fictional story around his upbringing that fleshes out the boy that would become the man. Her detailed descriptions of life in the West Indies in the mid-eighteenth century and the injustices that were piled onto both the African slaves and the poor working-class were poignant and timely. Alexander’s view of the world and of slavery, in particular, was probably well ahead of his time in that he recognized the poor slaves as equal human beings just like himself, humbled by circumstances of birth and worthy of the opportunity to better themselves through their own hard work and mental prowess. His friendship with Ajax was, for me, the crux of this story. It showed Hamilton’s true character and desire to make a difference. Easy to read and full of fascinating historical facts, this book is a wonderful addition to any library. I am ever hopeful the author will take up the story and continue to tell us of this remarkable man’s journey to America and his early exploits there. I can highly recommend this read.

Patricia Reding

The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton by Sophie Schiller is in the author’s words, a storyline that while fictional has weaved within it known events from Hamilton’s life. It opens with 11-year old Hamilton and his 13-year old brother, Jamie, living with his mother and father in St. Eustatius, Dutch West Indies. Hamilton’s father—Papa—is portrayed as a less than dependable figure, so much so that eventually he leaves his family to fend for themselves. Hamilton’s mother, formerly wealthy, had left her husband after he abused her and lost the significant money she had brought to their union. Never actually married to Papa, Mama struggles with her life of poverty, all the while instilling in her sons the importance of getting an education. The story follows young Hamilton as he befriends Ajax, a young slave brought to the island, who is later gifted to Hamilton. Difficult family relationships with cousins and half-brothers fill in the gaps. Fortunately, Alexander’s unique skills help him, at the tender age of 13, get work with a local merchant. Unfortunately, on the death of his mother, Alexander loses Ajax. Even so, Alexander’s commitment to his friend presents a challenge that he finds the courage to meet. Perhaps that, more than any other, shaped the boy, who became the man, who acted as one of George Washington’s most trusted aides and who is one of the most beloved of those we call our “founders.”

For this reader, the thread that kept The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton alive and intriguing was Alexander’s connection to Ajax. The two formed a beautiful friendship, urged one another to learn and grow, and even gave one another the will to go on. This is the kind of story that helps to restore faith in mankind. It helps to illustrate that, while there are those who are evil, who care not for their fellow man, there are also those willing to put their lives on the line for others. Author Sophie Schiller’s story of Alexander Hamilton shows him to be such a man. In these days when it seems that so little history is taught, and when the veracity of much of what is taught is questionable, this is the kind of story that those both young and old would do well to read.