Booth's Daughter

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The niece of Lincoln's assassin comes to terms with her family's genius and tragic history. In March 1880 at age eighteen, Edwina is experiencing many new things. For the first time she sees her actor father, Edwin Booth, in King Lear, a play he had considered "too harsh for a young lady." For the first time she finds herself squarely facing the burden carried by her family name for more than a decade: the assassination of President Lincoln by her uncle John Wilkes Booth. And for the first time she is in love, ...
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Booth's Daughter

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Overview


The niece of Lincoln's assassin comes to terms with her family's genius and tragic history. In March 1880 at age eighteen, Edwina is experiencing many new things. For the first time she sees her actor father, Edwin Booth, in King Lear, a play he had considered "too harsh for a young lady." For the first time she finds herself squarely facing the burden carried by her family name for more than a decade: the assassination of President Lincoln by her uncle John Wilkes Booth. And for the first time she is in love, with Downing Vaux, an artist whose father, like Edwina's, is famous. Edwina leaves Downing behind when her father insists that she accompany him on a year-long theatrical tour abroad. Downing is loyal, however, and when she returns to New York, they become engaged. But when the assassination of President Garfield thrusts the Booth family back into the limelight, Edwina finds that she must travel abroad again with her father, and Downing's devotion is tested. Forced to reexamine her life, Edwina faces a difficult choice between duty and the pursuit of happiness.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[Wemmlinger's] quick-moving and well-written story employs appropriately old-fashioned speech, and beliefs and the result is enthralling." --Kirkus Reviews

"Fans of Ann Rinaldi will be drawn to Wemmlinger's impeccably researched and compelling debut." --Publishers Weekly

"An interesting picture of upper middle class existence in this debut novel set at a time when women were just beginning to see themselves as autonomous." --School Library Journal

VOYA - Stacey Hayman
Edwina Booth, daughter of noted stage tragedian Edwin Booth and niece of assassin John Wilkes Booth, matures from a girl into a young woman during the years of 1880 to 1885. Her unique social status allows a variety of historically significant people to wander through her life. The choices and actions made are true as referenced through the research cited in the Sources section, but the details and the dialogue are embellished. Romance is blossoming as the story begins, but Edwina's relationship with Downing quickly becomes overshadowed by familial obligations. Soon the focus of the story becomes Edwin Booth and the unappealing choices that he forces his daughter to make. Edwina lets the unhealthy situation fester long enough to cause Downing mental anguish, and then she herself dissolves into a spineless, whiny mess. With the help of a new romantic relationship and some harsh truths shared by those closest to Edwin and Edwina, the father-daughter relationship is reorganized into a more appropriate dynamic. Intriguing insights into the mental and emotional make-up of John Wilkes Booth and the sub-story of Joseph Booth's (John and Edwin's brother) tragic romance are the best aspects of this novel. President Garfield's wounding and General Grant's banking scandal and subsequent death feel more like name-dropping than the marking of significant events within the context of Edwina's life. Stilted writing and some unlikable characters made this book feel more like homework than reading for enjoyment.
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Edwina Booth is a young woman hamstrung by circumstance and family secrets. Her father, Edwin Booth, is a renowned actor whose talents have been critically applauded throughout her life. Sadly, despite the talents of her father and other relatives who also performed on stage, the Booth family legacy is overshadowed by the horrendous act of assassination conducted by her late uncle, John Wilkes Booth. Fifteen years have passed since the mid-April evening when Edwina's uncle shot President Lincoln at Ford's Theater in Washington. Now, Edwina leads a lonely existence tending to her ill stepmother while her father morosely plays out his life role. Over time, Edwina discovers that people are not what they always seem to be. Indeed, even a person as close to you as a loving father may well have hidden dimensions that color and control happiness. In this historical novel readers are introduced to the famous Booth family. The author presents the Booths in a way that is both true to historical fact and with an eye for the world of theater. Unfortunately, the narrative lags in places and takes a great deal of time to play out a relatively simple theme. In telling the story of Edwina Booth from this thematic perspective, Raymond Wemmlinger demonstrates both the gifts and flaws frequently inherent in a first novel.
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
This story, set in the elegant society of the 1880s, keeps readers at a distance that emulates the social period of the times. Despite being told in first person by Edwina, the niece of assassin John Wilkes Booth, the novel retains a detached quality, never showing more than would be polite in mixed company. While her father, Edwin, is a wonderful actor and worthy of accolades, the attention the Booth family receives is more of the "notorious" variety due to their familial association with the man who shot President Lincoln. The teen's desire to be a good, supportive daughter to her temperamental father and mentally unbalanced stepmother overrides standing up for what she believes is most important in her life: getting married to Downing Vaux and beginning her own family. Circumstances make Edwina's plans spiral out of control, leaving her with no choice but to follow her father's arrangement of her life. Wemmlinger presents an interesting picture of upper middle class existence in this debut novel set at a time when women were just beginning to see themselves as autonomous. Thoughtful teens will enjoy Booth's Daughter .
—Charli OsborneCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932425864
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Pages: 212
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Raymond Wemmlinger is the curator and librarian at The Hampden-Booth Theatre Library, New York City, which specializes in nineteenth-century British and American theater. He has lived his entire life in or around New York City, where most of Booth's Daughter is set. This is his first novel.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This coming-of-age tale describes the life of Edwina Booth. Daug

    This coming-of-age tale describes the life of Edwina Booth. Daughter of the famous Edwin Booth, and niece of the infamous John Wilkes Booth. Growing up under such looming shadows at first seems not quite the struggle that it could have been for Edwina. Edwina knows exactly what to say when her infamous uncle is mentioned--she has no memory, after all she was just three when he died. She seems to relish in her father's fame and her highest hope is to marry an artist such as him. We slowly see how this all may just be a façade, an attempt for Edwina to deal with the madness she is surrounded with. She finds her artist, but his descent into madness causes her pause. Perhaps an artist's life is not her true desire. She is ready to face this truth, but is her father?

    Although this book is certainly accessible to a younger audience as indicated by the reading level, younger readers may pick it up and finish it. However, the book begins when the protagonist is 18 and continues until she is 23. The thoughts on madness vs. mental illness may also be a little beyond the comprehension of middle-schoolers as well.

    This could be a book to recommend to the girls who have grown up with the American Girls and are now in high school and seeking additional historical fiction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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