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IF A POEM COULD LIVE AND BREATHE: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt’s First Love
Based on real letters, this new historical fiction novel from Mary Calvi, author of Dear George, Dear Mary, illuminates the story of Teddy Roosevelt’s first love
Studded with the real love letters between a young Theodore Roosevelt and Boston beauty Alice Lee—many of them never before published—If a Poem Could Live and Breathe makes vivid what many historians believe to be the pivotal years that made the future president into the man of action that defined his political life, and cemented his legacy.
Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1878. The era of the Gilded Age. Alice Lee sets out to break from the norms of her mother’s generation. Women are fighting for educational opportunities and exploring a new sense of intellectual and personal freedom. Native New Yorker, Harvard student Teddy Roosevelt, is on his own journey of discovery, and when they meet, unrelenting currents of love change the trajectory of his life forever.
If a Poem Could Live and Breathe is an indelible portrait of the authenticity of first love, the heartache of loss, and how overcoming the worst of life’s obstacles can push one to greatness never imagined.
Mary Calvi is a 12-time New York Emmy award-winning journalist for WCBS-TV and weekend anchor of Inside Edition. Her in-depth research for her debut book, Dear George, Dear Mary: A Novel of George Washington’s First Love, is the basis of a Smithsonian Channel documentary. Calvi lives in Yonkers, New York.
Praise for If a Poem Could Live and Breathe:
“Another solid presidential love story…The authenticity of Theodore’s feelings for Alice is made palpable in the magnetic narrative, and the inclusion of his love letters to Alice, some published for the very first time, is a nice touch. Historical fiction fans will be pleased.” —Publishers Weekly
“This is a sweet and engaging story with strong-minded characters, for those who’ve enjoyed Courting Mr. Lincoln, by Louis Bayard (2019) or Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan (2018).” —Booklist
“An entertaining novel to devour with tissues nearby.” —The Historical Novel Society
Praise for Dear George, Dear Mary:
“Calvi’s debut skillfully depicts the ill-fated love story of a promising 24-year-old colonel named George Washington and Mary Eliza Philipse… The bittersweet ending is a fitting conclusion to a story that will appeal to readers of romance and historical fiction.” —Publishers Weekly
“Calvi’s portrait of Washington as an earnest young man striving for success but beleaguered on every front is convincing and, in a way, endearing. It is also a fascinating and unique look at pre-Revolutionary War society, with its misunderstandings and simmering resentments, and notable for the author’s use of contemporaneous documents.” —Booklist
The author has had a number of television appearances, including a feature on the Drew Barrymore show, which can be watched here. She has also been interviewed on a number of local TV stations, and will be interviewed on CBS Saturday Morning. The book also received a nice review from Publishers Weekly, which says it is “another solid presidential love story…The authenticity of Theodore’s feelings for Alice is made palpable in the magnetic narrative, and the inclusion of his love letters to Alice, some published for the very first time, is a nice touch. Historical fiction fans will be pleased.”
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