Charles Schuyler, Aaron Burr's biographer and illegitimate son has come home to America. He's broke and his goal to find his beautiful daughter Emma a wealthy husband. He's also searching for some freelance writing assignments to keep them afloat until she finds a husband. Ignoble but true.
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As in "Burr" Schuyler narrates the story. He and Emma plunge into American high society circa 1876. He has lived abroad for some 40 years so he refers to himself as a latter day Rip Van Winkle, a character created by his long dead friend Washington.
Charlie and Emma travel up and down the coast in their quest for fortune. He loves New York whereas she is taken with Washington, D.C. She loves the intrigue and the warm and muggy climate and refers to it as Africa. She charms a series of politicians including James Garfield, James G Blaine and even President Grant but none of them are single and available.
Charlie and Emma are befriended by a wealthy couple, William and Denise Sanford. His roving eye is interested in her but his wife has become Emma's best friend. Denise dies in child birth ostensibly of natural causes but the details don't sit right with Charlie. He suspects that his daughter killed Denise to marry her husband. He will never find out for sure because he dies soon after Emma indeed marries Mr. Sanford.
This is the second volume of Gore Vidal's American Chronicles series, which resumes 20 years later with the story of Emma's daughter, Caroline.
Best part of story, including ending:
Great writing and period and character detail.
Best scene in story:
When the Schuyler's meet the Grants at the White House.
Opinion about the main character:
I like his sense of humor and adventure.