Monday, 18 June 2018

#CBR10 Book 45: "Hamilton: The Revolution" by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Page count: 285 pages
Rating: 5 stars

A quick search suggests that this book has been reviewed for Cannonball at least eight times already, so it's not like anything I say about the book is likely to be new or revolutionary (see what I did there). I don't think there was ever any doubt that I was going to love this book, considering just how much I love the musical.

I don't remember exactly when I first heard about Hamilton, but it's likely to be early in 2016 (I got this as a birthday gift that year from my best friend, and then postponed reading it until spring this year, in preparation for seeing the musical live in London). Enough people I know on the internets (it's where almost all my friends "live" now) were talking about it in such enthusiastic tones that I was curious. I discovered that the music was available on Spotify, and don't think I've been so immediately taken with a musical since I first heard Les Miserables (another musical where I'd listened to the music countless times before I actually got to see it on stage. The first time I heard it, it was the Norwegian translation - not as good as the English, but still great). I had shivers down my spine, I cried buckets, especially during the second act. I'd listened to it more times than I could count by the time the husband and I visited New York in the summer of 2016, so when I saw this book in a bookstore, there was no question it was going to go on my birthday wish list.

Yet when I finally had the beautiful hardcover, I didn't feel like starting it right away. Other things kept getting in the way, and once I secured tickets to the show in London, I made the conscious decision to wait to read it until our trip was getting closer, so the reading experience would be fresh in my mind. Of course, this spring, there's a little someone who takes up most of my time and also tends to wreck my concentration. I can get a fair bit of reading done, by either listening to audio books or holding my Kindle in one hand while nursing, but juggling a big hardback book and turning pages while also half-wrestling a rapidly growing infant (he's getting squirmier by the day) on my lap isn't the easiest. So I would usually get a few chapters read at a time while he was sleeping or being entertained by his father. I also listened to the cast recording on Spotify several times while reading the book, following along with the annotated lyrics for the songs included at the end of each chapter. In the end, I read the last two chapters the evening before we flew to London, once we were done packing, because the wee one was refusing to go to sleep. While reading a big hardback while nursing isn't ideal, it can be done and I was determined to get the book finished before we left.

Hamilton: An American Musical is a wonderful musical. It's a great show and seeing it on stage in London was a dream come true. While I pretty had all the lyrics memorised, seeing the actual staging and character interactions just blew me away. I was crying on and off throughout the entire show, much more so than when I just listen to it (and It's Quiet Uptown and Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story never fails to have me in tears). Having the back story of how the show came to be, with all the work and loving labour that went into it probably made it an even better experience.

It's a beautiful book, with so many behind the scenes pictures and I can't imagine any fan of the show wouldn't get a lot out of reading this book.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover of my hardback is very simple, with the now pretty iconic image promoting the musical at the centre. The background colour is chosen to bring to mind old paper or parchment, I suspect (the pages of the hardback are the same, it's lovely). Simple, yet elegant. I don't think they needed a flashy cover design for this book to sell.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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