Landscape of a Marriage: Central Park Was Only the Beginning

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Frederick Law Olmsted may not be familiar to everyone who considers picking up Landscape of a Marriage, but he certainly will be to those who are familiar with the history of parks in America. A landscape architect, he designed many urban parks across the country and founded the greatest landscape planning consultancy of the late nineteenth century.

He was also the distant cousin of the author’s husband. Rather than write about Frederick, however, she chose to turn to a less well-known figure: his wife, Mary, formerly married to Frederick’s brother.

Though an unconventional relationship to modern eyes, it would have been a reasonable arrangement in the time. Mary, with three children from her first marriage, would have needed the security only a husband could provide, and she could serve as a domestic anchor for him. In this fictionalized biography, that is exactly what she does.

The book is clearly a labor of love and a beautiful one at that. As a novel, however, I was underwhelmed. It is mostly a series of vignettes, with information about the intervening time (sometimes intervening years) given as exposition. I would have preferred to see more of it shown through action rather than hear about it after the fact. At the end of the day, however, I was entirely won over by the author’s clear love for these distant relations of her husband, and I learned a little about America’s urban parks in the bargain.

Reviewed By:

Author Gail Ward Olmsted
Star Count /5
Format eBook
Page Count 316 pages
Publisher Black Rose Writing
Publish Date 29-Jul-2021
ISBN Buy this Book
Issue September 2021
Category Historical Fiction