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Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washington Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 2003

108 customer reviews

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"Sweet Caress" by William Boyd
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1969 under the title Aspire to the Heavens, this slim, muted historical romance is the long-out-of-print debut by America's reigning queen of suspense. As the quasi-biographical novel opens, George Washington is preparing to attend the inauguration of his successor, John Adams; Clark, employing inelegant but efficient transitional techniques (Adams's "rather flat nasal voice seemed to become more clipped and sharp-toned.... It became his mother's voice"), quickly moves the narrative back to George's boyhood. The temporal seesaw continues as she juxtaposes George's trials (his mean mother, his unrequited love for a friend's wife) and triumphs (his land acquisitions, his bravery in battle) with his reflections on the state of the union in the novel's 1797 present. But her focus remains on the domestic (a French and Indian ambush at the Monongahela River in 1755 is rendered with far less care and credibility than scenes of George's skill on the dance floor) and the emotional (George's "mantle of leadership" concerns him much less than the naughtiness of his stepson). What passes for a driving narrative force is George's slow transfer of affection from the beautiful, charismatic Sally Carey to the small, "pretty widow" Martha (known as Patsy) Custis he married, and then the growing bond between "my old man" and "my dearest Patsy." Though it can be argued that Clark's tale is neither sufficiently historical nor romantic and it's definitely "not a suspense story," as Clark allows in a brief prefatory note this is a light read that completists will devour, and that Clark's other fans may appreciate simply because it's a different bill of fare.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Clark launched her career in 1968 with this historical romance, published as Aspire to the Heavens. The plot follows George Washington as he exits the White House after his presidency. Clark is more interested in Washington the husband than the nation's leader, and this focuses on his sometimes bumpy marriage to Martha. Higgins has the Midas touch, so even though this isn't a thriller, fans will want to read it.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reissue edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743448944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743448949
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

If I were to define myself in one sentence, I would say, "I'm a nice Irish Catholic girl from the Bronx."

I was a Christmas Eve baby all those years ago, the second of the three children of Nora and Luke Higgins. Mother was pushing forty when they married and my father was forty-two. My older brother was named Joseph. Nineteen months later I, Mary, was born. Three and a half years later, my little brother, John, came along.

We lived in a very nice section of the Bronx on a street off Pelham Parkway. I loved our house. I still love it. After my father died, when I was eleven, my mother had to sell it.

I went to Saint Francis Xavier Grammar School. Two years ago I went back and was Principal for a Day. Escorted by two of the tiniest children, I was led into the auditorium while the whole student body sang "Hello Mary. You're back where you belong." I still tear up thinking about it.

I was awarded a scholarship to Villa Maria Academy which is in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx, otherwise I couldn't have afforded to set foot in it.

I went to Woods Secretarial School and at eighteen had my first full-time job as Secretary to the creative director of Remington Rand's in-house advertising agency. If I were making that choice now I would have gone to college even though God knows we needed the income. On the other hand the three years I spent in Remington Rand was a tutorial in advertising which served me well when I was widowed with five small children. Another plus was that I left Remington to be a flight stewardess with Pan American Airways and when my contemporaries were seniors in college, I was flying to Europe, Africa and Asia.

Warren Clark and I were married on December 26, 1949 and had five children in the next eight years; Marilyn, Warren, David, Carol and Patricia. Warren died of a heart attack in 1964. The highest compliment I can pay my kids are that they are like him.

I sold my first short story when I was twenty-eight. It was alled 'Stowaway'. It had been rejected forty times before a magazine in Chicago bought it for one hundred dollars.

My first book was about George Washington. It was published in 1969 and disappeared without a trace. Three years ago Simon and Schuster co-published it with the Mount Vernon Historical Society and retitled 'Mount Vernon Love Story', it became a bestseller.

My first suspense novel 'Where Are the Children' was bought in 1974 for three thousand dollars by Simon and Schuster. Thirty-three books later, I'm still with S&S.

Time to wind up - at least for the present. As soon as I sold 'Children' I enrolled in Fordham College. Went there for five years at night and earned a B.A. in Philosophy. Summa cum laude, if you please.

I never thought I'd marry again but ten years ago I threw a cocktail party on St. Patrick's day. My daughter, Pat, urged me to invite John Conheeney. Her opening words about him were, "Have I got a hunk for you!" He came to the party and we were married eight months later.

I'm Honorary Chairman of FraXa Research. My grandson, David, has the Fragile X syndrome, which is the second leading cause of retardation after Downs Syndrome. Basically the brain of the people who have it can't send out the proper signals because there's a kind of short circuit in the synapses that carry the signals. We raise money for research with the goal of finding a medication that will work around that short circuit. I go all over the country to the fund-raisers as new chapters of FraXa are opened.

I'm always asked to name my favorite book. They're ALL my favorites. If there is one book that is very special to me, it is my memoir 'Kitchen Privileges' because writing it made me relive my early life including those first struggles to become a writer. I think 'Kitchen Privileges' is both tender and funny and it's me.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
George Washington's father died when the future president was young. His mother was a harsh disciplinarian insuring George and his siblings behaved. George seemed to flee her whenever he could get away spending time at his half-brother's Mount Vernon home (yes - that historical home). George's first love is Sally Fairfax and his chosen profession surveyor, but war seemed to be his destiny. First he fought (unsuccessfully) during the French and Indian War and then the American Revolution.

This biography uses Washington's retirement to Mount Vernon with his beloved Patsy (Martha's nickname) as a focal point for looking back over the lives of the first president and his spouse. The book concentrates on his personal life not his public life. Thus, readers see another side to Washington. Though opinions are interspersed throughout, mystery suspense thriller writer Mary Higgins Clark provides a strong insightful look at Washington and literally the first "First Lady" that historical readers will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've always enjoyed Mary Higgins Clark's mysteries and this historical love story has proven to me that Ms. Clark is more than a great mistress of suspense - she is quite capable of entertaining in other genres as well!
This charming historical novel was actually the author's first novel, originally published in 1968 under the title "Aspire to the Heavens". It was re-released in 2002 and I can't think of a more appropriate time to do so!
With the tragic attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001, it is wonderful to read this highly-readable, well-researched novel about George Washington - the man who helped to give us the freedoms we so enjoy today! As Washington passes the presidential torch onto John Adams and returns to his beloved Mount Vernon, both he and his wife Martha (aka Patsy)flashback to their younger years. We're so used to stodgy accounts of Washington's military victories and political accomplishments that it was a pleasure to read a well-crafted story about Washington as a man and a husband.
This is a short novel and a fast-read so it's a great beach or airplane book. I would love to see it made into a television movie, perhaps to be aired on George Washington's birthday!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Eric K. VINE VOICE on June 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having recently visited Mount Vernon on vacation, I was very interested to read "Mount Vernon Love Story" by Mary Higgins Clark since I assumed it would lead into further insight of the relationship between George and Martha ("Patsy") Washington. Not only did it delve deeper into their relationship than was learned on the visit to their home, but it also provided a deeper insight into the history of the United States.
The book's chapters alternate between the beginning of George and Martha's relationship and the end of his presidency. It's a very clever way of storytelling, and each chapter leads into the next with grace, bouncing between time.
I must admit that this is the first book I've ever read by Mary Higgins Clark, so I am not familiar with her writing style. And I am sure that this book of history is quite different from her mystery books. It is her first book, however, and it shows.
The love story in the title is more the love of Mount Vernon -- the home, the grounds, the idea of it, etc. -- than the love story between George and Martha Washington. It's about the growth of Mount Vernon and the love its owners and visitors had for it. And why they couldn't stop being excited returning to it day after day.
Although I wasn't that drawn into the book and the romance between George and Martha, it was intriguing to learn some details about the Washingtons' lives. I especially enjoyed the chapter involving George introducing Martha to his domineering mother for the first time. Here, I felt drawn into the characters and loved the interaction between them. George tries to keep his temper in place over his mother's criticisms while Martha calms him down with her gentle touch. Unfortunately, this type of character development did not seem to continue through the rest of the book.
It was definitely an enjoyable read, but I guess I was hoping for something more.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Janet Jongebloed on May 30, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While the battle scenes and political stuff seemed to drag somewhat, the true wealth of this book lies in discovering the domestic personality of George Washington. The book makes the man seem all the more human, all the more flawed and all the more courageous. The segments/chapters were short enough to keep me interested but long enough to shed some light on each aspect of his life. The part that interested me the most were the sections on how George fell in love with his friend's wife Sally, but eventually came to see that this could never be and eventually fell in love with another lady, Martha Washington. I liked how it explained that Sally was charismatic, charming, exciting to be with yet utterly taken and Martha was a quieter, more domestic, a more rational choice.. yet he was able to love them both in different ways. It was like a page out of my own history and made me relate to him in a way I never have before. This was the first historical fiction I've read in a long time, but it was good enough to make me want to go to the library and check out some more.
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