Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Gail Ward Olmsted tells the riveting story of a widow who marries her brother-in-law, and fights to earn the affections of her new husband as she helps inspire him to become the father of American Landscape Architecture and find her own place in the world in the biographical and historical fiction novel, “Landscape of a Marriage”.


The Synopsis

A marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose. A shared vision transforms the American landscape forever.

New York, 1858: Mary, a young widow with three children, agrees to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted, who is acting on his late brother’s deathbed plea to “not let Mary suffer”. But she craves more than a marriage of convenience and sets out to win her husband’s love. Beginning with Central Park in New York City, Mary joins Fred on his quest to create a ‘beating green heart’ in the center of every urban space.

Over the next 40 years, Fred is inspired to create dozens of city parks, private estates and public spaces with Mary at his side. Based upon real people and true events, this is the story of Mary’s journey and personal growth and the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man.

The Review

A truly original and yet historical read, the author has done a masterful job of bringing protagonist and real-life historical figure Mary Olmsted, wife of legendary landscape architect Frederick Olmsted. The unique perspective of Mary makes the history feel alive and within reach, highlighting the struggles and changes many women faced back in the day, from gender bias to finding balance within marriage and even bringing love and romance into a marriage, which flew in the face of so many’s belief that status and wealth were the keys to a successful marriage. 

The balance between history, professionalism, and family is felt early on in this narrative. The evolving relationship between Frederick and Mary is engaging, taking a tragedy and leading to a marriage-turned-romance situation. The bond between them and the growth of their relationship as the world around them changed was fascinating to see unfold. Yet it was Mary herself that made this narrative so inspired and heartfelt, exploring her commitment to her marriage, fighting against societal expectations for her marriage and family, and how she processed the emotional impacts in her life made this story feel not only investing but real. 

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The Verdict

Historically driven, entertaining, and heartfelt, author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Landscape of a Marriage” was a must-read novel! Fantastic character development and a beautifully rich history to draw upon lead to a marvelously engaging narrative that readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a fulltime basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, an ancestor of her husband’s, and his wife Mary. For more information, please visit her on Facebook and at


1 thought on “Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted Review

  1. Pingback: Jeep Tour by Gail Ward Olmsted Review – Author Anthony Avina's Blog

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