Booth's Sister

Booth's Sister

2.6 3
by Jane Singer
     
 

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"My brother killed Abraham Lincoln. That is my weight, my shame. While he remained at large, I was held captive in my home. I should have told the soldiers who came with guns drawn and bayonets at the ready this true thing: I might have stopped him, for I harbored him and kept his secrets. I was a pie safe locked tight and guilty as he."

Asia Booth Clarke was

Overview

"My brother killed Abraham Lincoln. That is my weight, my shame. While he remained at large, I was held captive in my home. I should have told the soldiers who came with guns drawn and bayonets at the ready this true thing: I might have stopped him, for I harbored him and kept his secrets. I was a pie safe locked tight and guilty as he."

Asia Booth Clarke was twenty-nine years old and pregnant when Union soldiers and Federal detectives stormed her Philadelphia home in search of her assassin-brother. John Wilkes Booth's older sister had grown up in one of America's most notoriously troubled but spectacularly acclaimed acting families. "Johnny" and Edwin, her handsome brothers, were the matinee idols of the era. When John Wilkes Booth's crime left the nation in furious mourning and the Booth family under a dark cloud of accusation, it was Asia who bore the brunt.

Booth's Sister was inspired by Asia Booth Clarke's personal memoirs. Author, Civil War scholar and storyteller Jane Singer has masterfully imagined the family dynamics and intimate dilemmas that led to one of America's most fateful crimes and left a sister's life in shambles.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780980245332
Publisher:
BelleBooks
Publication date:
07/01/2008
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.52(d)

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Read an Excerpt

My brother killed Abraham Lincoln. That is my weight, my shame. While he remained at large, I was held captive in my home. I should have told the soldiers who came with guns drawn and bayonets at the ready this true thing: I might have stopped him, for I harbored him and kept his secrets. I was a pie safe locked tight and guilty as he.

When John Wilkes Booth was small and in my stormy keep, I fused us, so alike in face and form, into one muddle of a being. He was beautiful always. I was hat-rack thin with hair like a Hottentot's and a longing to be him as deep and wide as any river I ever did see. "You'll teach him the verses, Asia, and make him the greatest Booth of them all," my father said. "Poor Hamlet weeps and sighs in your head, that I know," he added, forbidding me to ever set foot on a stage.

The memory of the world around us--our celebrated family, the words of Shakespeare as necessary as morning porridge, our reckless, enchanted childhood deep in the woods--was a symphony of endless variation.

I watched as my brother grew to manhood; a famous actor with half the country in a lather about him and an easy passage through the world that lay beyond our sorry farm overgrown with tick weed and blighted corn. When war came, though our family remained dead loyal to Mr. Lincoln's Union, my brother did not. He was a Rebel to his bones and no ordinary soldier. John Wilkes Booth was an enemy agent on an enemy mission. And I who lived in him, lived for him could not, would not turn away.

On April 15, 1865, the day the President died, rain poured incessantly as though ordered by a raging god to drown we sinners in our sleep.

I begin my tale with thatraw April dawn. I begin with rain.

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Booth's Sister 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Jane Singer is a published Civil War scholar. Booth's Sister is her first fiction foray from Bell Bridge Books. Singer first came upon two photographs of Asia Booth Clark and the story she wrote about her brother, John Wilkes Booth, published in 1938 as The Unlocked Book. Singer felt the need to know more about Asia and has written this fictionalized account exploring Asia Booth's life. Nearly everyone (including us Canadians) can tell you who shot Abraham Lincoln and where. Beyond that I didn't know too much. Booth's Sister is a fascinating look at the life of the sister who was left to deal with the aftermath of the assassination. The book opens with the statement: 'My brother killed Abraham Lincoln. That is my weight, my shame.' From there we travel back to relive their childhood, from Asia's viewpoint. Raised in rural Maryland with an often absent actor father who insisted that Shakespeare be part of everyday life, the two youngest Booth children embraced the theatre. The freed black woman Gillian seems to have been a much stronger force in her life than their own mother. Inklings of Johnny's political leanings are hinted at in his childhood. I found the first part of the book a little confusing. Singer has taken great literary license in imagining their days. Asia seems to want to be her brother. Lots of Shakespearean quotes and references let us know how great a role the theatre plays in their lives. But I sometimes had to read pages two and three times to understand what was real and what was imagined. The second half of the book, their adult life, captured me more. It seemed more grounded and readable. Asia still longs to be a man and particiapate in the theatre. Her brothers are celebrated actors and she longs to be on the stage with them. Instead she enters a loveless marriage, but continues to help her brother with his plans to bring down Lincoln's government. 'Johnny' commits his crime and Asia's life is forever changed. There are two monologues- ' Voices From the Time of the Assassination' at the end of the book that I found to be excellent. I enjoyed them almost as much as the book. I love the idea of fictionalizing history and Singer has done an admirable job of bringing to life a lesser known figure from the past