Aspire to the Heavens

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Overview

"When I researched George Washington's life I was surprised to find the engaging man behind the pious legend." Mary Higgins Clark. The "engaging man" who grows up in the shadow of a difficult mother and loses his father at an early age comes to life in this biographical novel written by acclaimed suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark. Strongly influenced by the gentility and generosity of spirit of the older brother from whom he eventually inherits his beloved Mount Vernon, the young Washington matures into a devoted and able public servant in both

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Overview

"When I researched George Washington's life I was surprised to find the engaging man behind the pious legend." Mary Higgins Clark. The "engaging man" who grows up in the shadow of a difficult mother and loses his father at an early age comes to life in this biographical novel written by acclaimed suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark. Strongly influenced by the gentility and generosity of spirit of the older brother from whom he eventually inherits his beloved Mount Vernon, the young Washington matures into a devoted and able public servant in both the military and political arenas. Though marked by tragedies and disappointments, his domestic life offers him well-earned solace and satisfaction, especially after his marriage to the young widow, Martha "Patsy" Custis. The humanity and humor behind the "pious legend" emerge from this story of the man who managed to enjoy a rich and fulfilling life while always in pursuit of the motto of his mother's family "Aspire to the Heavens."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780899665337
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1986
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.84 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark likes to delve into different worlds in her crackerjack novels of suspense; but while the milieus change, her stories are always compelling. As she puts it: "I write about people going about their daily lives, not looking for trouble, who are suddenly plunged into menacing situations."

Biography

The Queen of Suspense, Bronx-born and -bred Mary Higgins Clark has achieved international success against heavy odds. Her father died when she was 11, and her mother struggled to raise and provide for Mary and her two brothers. Clark attended secretarial school after high school and worked for three years in an advertising agency before leaving to become a stewardess for Pan American Airlines. Throughout 1949, she flew international flights to Europe, Africa, and Asia. " I was in a revolution in Syria and on the last flight into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain went down," she recalls. In 1950, she quit her job to marry Warren Clark, a neighbor nine years her senior whom she had known and admired since she was 16.

In the early years of her marriage, Clark began writing short stories, making her first sale in 1956 to Extension Magazine. Between writing and raising a family, the decade flew by. Then, in 1964, Warren Clark suffered a fatal heart attack, leaving his young widow with five children to support. She went to work writing radio scripts; and, around this time, she decided to try her hand at writing books. Inspired by a radio series she was working on, she drafted a biographical novel about George Washington. It was published in 1969 under the title Aspire to the Heavens. (In 2002, it was re-issued as Mount Vernon Love Story.) Her first suspense novel, Where Are the Children?, appeared in print in 1975. It was a huge hit and marked a turning point in her life. Since then, she has developed a loyal fan base, and each of her novels has hit the bestseller lists. She has also co-written stories and novels with her daughter Carol, a successful author in her own right.

In the 1970s, Clark enrolled in Fordham University at Lincoln Center, graduating summa cum laude in 1979. A great supporter of education, she has served as a trustee of her alma mater and Providence College and holds numerous honorary degrees. She remains active in Catholic affairs and has been honored with many awards. Her publisher, Simon & Schuster, funds an annual award in her name to be given to authors of suspense fiction writing in the Mary Higgins Clark tradition.

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    1. Hometown:
      Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 24, 1929
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979
    2. Website:

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2001

    George Washington As Family Man and Friend

    If you are like me, you have often wondered how our most talented novelists would see important historical characters. Gore Vidal has whetted our appetite with his novels about the first hundred years of the United States. In Aspire to the Heavens, talented mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark makes George Washington come alive as a simple man with many personal challenges in his life. Although I was familiar with the material in this book, Ms. Clark did a wonderful job of both making it more interesting and accessible by making his life into a personally focused biographical novel. As a result, I got a lot of new perspectives on my own life that I will benefit from for many years to come. The book's title alludes to a promise that George Washington's mother asked for and received from him. She wanted him to always do his utmost. In her family, that had meant 'Aspire to the Heavens.' He took on that promise with her encouragement. Out of his own character, though, he decided to be the most decent man he could possibly be. That latter promise to himself is the one that this book focuses on. The form of this book is to describe George Washington through the lens of his personal life, rather than his public accomplishments. The style reads more as though it is a novel rather than a biography, and there is certainly some literary license in the ascriptions of motives and personal thoughts. Yet, these devices work well as long as you remember not to take them too seriously and literally. Although Washington will always seem larger than life to all Americans, he was a man who had many setbacks in his own life. Before the Revolutionary War, he was certainly not considered to be the great man most now believe him to have been. Life was hard as a youngster. His father died when he was fairly young, and his mother carried a whip to help assert her authority over him and his siblings. She did not keep a very attractive household, which young George resented. Although she loved her son, she put him down verbally at every opportunity. Her opposition to his desire for an ocean-going career was a fortunate one for the United States and democracies everywhere, but a bitter disappointment to him at the time. George sought escape from her whenever possible, especially to the home of his half-brother at Mount Vernon (which he would eventually inherit and buy out from his sister-in-law). An early friendship with the Fairfax family led to a long relationship with the first and greatest love of Washington's life, Sally Fairfax, his proposal to her similar-appearing sister (which was refused), as well as his interest in surveying as a career. His mother constantly tried to discourage his military career, and complained bitterly about the risks he was taking during the colonial campaigns before the Revolutionary War. She blamed the early death of George's favorite half-brother on war-related illnesses. It is fun to read Martha Washington referred to by her pet name of 'Patsy' throughout the book. You will also read here a sensitive interpretation of Washington's frustrations as a step-father and in securing Patsy's love and attention. As you may know, the story ends tragically as both step-children

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