Author: Mary Calvi
Published by: St. Martin's Press on Feb. 14, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: St. Martin's Press
Book Rating: 8.5/10
A fact-based romantic speculative novel about Teddy Roosevelt’s first love, by Mary Calvi, author of Dear George, Dear Mary.
Studded with the real love letters between a young Theodore Roosevelt and Boston beauty Alice Lee—many of them never before published—If a Poem Could Live and Breathe makes vivid what many historians believe to be the pivotal years that made the future president into the man of action that defined his political life, and cemented his legacy.
Cambridge, 1878. The era of the Gilded Age. Alice Lee sets out to break from the norms of her mother’s generation. Women are fighting for educational opportunities and exploring a new sense of intellectual and personal freedom. Native New Yorker, Harvard student Teddy Roosevelt, is on his own journey of discovery, and when they meet, unrelenting currents of love change the trajectory of his life forever.
If a Poem Could Live and Breathe is an indelible portrait of the authenticity of first love, the heartache of loss, and how overcoming the worst of life’s obstacles can push one to greatness never imagined.
Sentimental, tender, and intriguing!
If a Poem Could Live and Breathe is a compelling, heart-tugging tale that sweeps you away to the late 1870s and into the lives of Harvard student Theodore Roosevelt and debutante Alice Lee Hathaway who, after meeting on an estate in Chestnut Hill, MA, quickly became friends, confidants, and partners until Valentine’s Day just over three years from the day of their marriage when tragedy strikes and Alice succumbs to an undiagnosed kidney infection while giving birth to their first child.
The prose is evocative and rich. The characters are multilayered, intelligent, and engaging. And the plot, infused with preserved love letters, is a fascinating tale about life, loss, family, friendship, history, emotion, determination, heartbreak, passion, and love.
Overall, If a Poem Could Live and Breathe is a beautifully written, enchanting tale by Calvi that does a remarkable job of highlighting her immense knowledge and research into this complex, historical figure who although lived to have an incredibly successful life, both politically and personally, never fully recovered from the sudden loss of his first true love.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.