Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted

A marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose. A shared vision transforms the American landscape forever.

New York, 1858: Mary, a young widow with three children, agrees to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted, who is acting on his late brother’s deathbed plea to “not let Mary suffer”. But she craves more than a marriage of convenience and sets out to win her husband’s love. Beginning with Central Park in New York City, Mary joins Fred on his quest to create a ‘beating green heart’ in the center of every urban space.

Over the next 40 years, Fred is inspired to create dozens of city parks, private estates and public spaces with Mary at his side. Based upon real people and true events, this is the story of Mary’s journey and personal growth and the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man. 

I love stories of the wives of famous men, and it’s even better when I learn about men I never knew about! This lovely book begins in 1858 when Mary is widowed and her brother-in-law, Frederick, marries her to help take care of his brother’s children. At first, their relationship is awkward, but Mary works to make her marriage one of love and support. As Frederick designs more and more parks, which he calls the “beating green heart” of a city, Mary is his support.

The chapters in this book are short, making it an easy read. Chapters are presented as vignettes from Frederick and Mary’s marriage, both good and bad, that draw them together or give them difficulty. Sometimes it seemed the problem was presented and then solved a bit too quickly, though. Even so, the story is a delight.

On a side note, Gail Olmsted is distantly related to Frederick Law Olmsted, and her son designed the book cover!

A family trip to Sedona, AZ prompted Gail Olmsted to start writing JEEP TOUR, her first novel. She fell in love with the red rocks and blue skies. Her second novel is Guessing at Normal, a rock and roll love story. Driving on the Left, a romantic sequel of sorts to JEEP TOUR is based in Ireland.  Second Guessing, a contemporary romance,  follows Jill’s story from Guessing at Normal.

A hopeless romantic, Gail is married to the love of her life, mom to two young adults and she enjoys reading, music and travel.

LANDSCAPE OF A MARRIAGE will be published in July of 2021.

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