Rating: 5 out of 5.

landscape of a marriage by gail ward olmsted, 316 pp

biographical historical fiction

Landscape of a Marriage cultivates the relationship between Frederick Law Olmsted and his wife, Mary. Chronicling their forty-four years together from 1859 to 1903, the story spans Olmsted’s work with the Union Army during the Civil War (nod to Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly for previously educating me about his role with the Sanitation Commission) to his designing and building American landscape architectural landmarks, including: Central Park, the Arnold Arboretum and Emerald Necklace of Boston, the Chicago World’s Fair, and Stanford University’s campus. Yet, Landscape is not another Olmsted biography; it is Mary’s story, told from her point of view, as the woman behind the man. For isn’t it the quiet, hidden roots from which the mighty, showy flora reaches for greatness with its blooms? Gail Ward Olmsted (related to Frederick through her husband’s family) offers a story of love and respect without the sappy overdone writing of a romance novel. From words spoken at many marriage ceremonies, the teachings of I Corinthians ring true throughout this beautiful story: And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.

I received an Advance Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Check out my other top picks for Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Non-Fiction and Simple Pleasure Reading.

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.

Jhumpa Lahiri

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