Mary

Mary

4.1 40
by Janis Cooke Newman
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A fascinating and intimate novel of the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, narrated by the First Lady herself

 

Mary Todd Lincoln is one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. She was a political strategist, a supporter of emancipation, and a mother who survived the loss of three children and the assassination of her beloved

See more details below

Overview

A fascinating and intimate novel of the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, narrated by the First Lady herself

 

Mary Todd Lincoln is one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. She was a political strategist, a supporter of emancipation, and a mother who survived the loss of three children and the assassination of her beloved husband. She also ran her family into debt, held seances in the White House, and was committed to an insane asylum—which is where Janis Cooke Newman’s debut novel begins. From her room in Bellevue Place, Mary chronicles her tempestuous childhood in a slaveholding Southern family and takes readers through the years after her husband’s death, revealing the ebbs and flows of her passion and depression, her poverty and ridicule, and her ultimate redemption.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Abraham Lincoln's widow was committed by her son in 1875; kept awake by the bedlam of her fellow inmates, she takes up a pen. Newman, author of the memoir The Russian Word for Snow, portrays Mary Todd Lincoln (1818- 1882) as a proto-feminist: she seduces poor Illinois lawyer Lincoln; kick-starts his career; draws his attention to the slavery issue; corrects his elocution before the Lincoln-Douglas debates; and lobbies behind the scenes (she also has an affair). After the 1860 election, the narrative returns to accepted history, dominated by Mary's crushing misery after a son's death in 1862, her husband's assassination and another son's death in 1872, punctuated by lavish shopping expeditions and an occasional psychotic break. Not introspective and demonstrative, Mary presents a challenge for any historical novelist. Newman makes a good choice in telling the story through Mary's eyes and drawing readers into her perspective. Lincoln buffs can give this a pass because he comes across as a shadowy figure, but readers looking for a vivid, mostly flattering (and rather massive) account of his once-notorious spouse, whose letters are becoming more read, will not be disappointed and those who simply come upon it will be happily surprised. (Sept. 8) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Newman's first novel presents a riveting portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln. Writing in her journal while confined to Bellvue asylum, Mary alternates between recalling her past life as First Lady and detailing her current experiences in that institution. The first-person narrative and liberal use of descriptive details, perfected perhaps by Newman's extensive experience writing nonfiction, enlist the reader's sympathy for the mentally unstable Mrs. Lincoln. At the same time, we can become dismayed at her seeming lack of common sense. Her obsessions are chronicled, from compulsive shopping and fears for the safety of her loved ones, to her sexual needs. Mary's hopes, dreams, feelings, and thoughts are conveyed with depth and subtlety, but the supporting characters seem superficial. Barbara Hambly's The Emancipator's Wife is similar in subject and style, yet the two novels complement rather than duplicate each other. Newman does not emphasize Mary's addiction to opium and patent medicines, while Hambly suggests this is at the root of much of Mary's irrational behavior. The authors present differing views on the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, and Newman offers fewer details of Mary's life, which helps her better maintain the pace and tension of the story. Newman's nuanced portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln's personal struggles belongs in all public libraries, even if they already own the Hambly book.-Ann Fleury, Tampa-Hills-borough Cty. P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR MARY

"One of those rare books that turns the reader into an admiring fan of both the author and her subject. You feel a compulsion to urge others to read it."--USA Today

 

"Like its protagonist, Mary is bold, happy to trample upon convention. It is also an old-fashioned pleasure to read . . . Newman daubs period detail like an Impressionist, splashing in lines that intensify her color."--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544148956
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
12/10/2012
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
636
Sales rank:
191,821
File size:
1 MB

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >