Mary

( 29 )

Overview

Mary Todd Lincoln is one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. The first president’s wife to be called First Lady, 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. Yet she also ran her family into debt, held seances in the White House, and was committed to an insane asylum. In Janis Cooke Newman’s debut novel, Mary Todd Lincoln shares the story of her life in her own words. Writing from ...
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First Edition/First Printing. Hardcover. 708 pages. The author's daring, debut novel, about the inner life of Mary Todd Lincoln; an intelligent, sympathetic, well-written work of ... speculative fiction. A fine dustjacket over a fine book. New. Unread. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Mary Todd Lincoln is one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. The first president’s wife to be called First Lady, 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. Yet she also ran her family into debt, held seances in the White House, and was committed to an insane asylum. In Janis Cooke Newman’s debut novel, Mary Todd Lincoln shares the story of her life in her own words. Writing from Bellevue Place asylum, she takes readers from her tempestuous childhood in a slaveholding Southern family through the years after her husband’s death. A dramatic tale filled with passion and depression, poverty and ridicule, infidelity and redemption, Mary allows us entry into the inner, intimate world of this brave and fascinating woman.
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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)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931561631
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/8/2006
  • Pages: 650
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Janis Cooke Newman is the author of the memoir The Russian Word for Snow. She lives in northern California, where she teaches writing classes at the renowned independent bookseller Book Passage.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Quite informative

    Learned more about her than I ever knew. Truly a very sad life. Her son was a monster and probably would have been very different if President Lincoln had not been killed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    A very good read!

    Awesome book that is well written and spun from nonfiction information from history. I couldn't put it down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 8, 2011

    A good read

    I enjoyed this book. It is based on certain historical facts but the author goes beyond that to create an entertaining novel. Please don't accept every thing in the book as fact. Just enjoy it as a novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    Intriguing but hard to believe is really true

    Hard to believe this book is based upon fact.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Loved this book

    Author did good job of holding my attention. I felt as though I was living in this time period.Learned a lot about a woman's role during this time period. Highly recommend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    Recommended

    This is well-written and easy to follow. I am a fan of history and if these accounts of Mary Todd Lincoln are anywhere near true, then she was quite a colorful personality. I decided to find out more about Abe Lincoln's wife after I read a book about his last 14 days on earth. I wanted to know why he felt so protective of his wife as he only eluded to her "instability". It peaked my curiosity. This book satisfied my curiosity. You should read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Unexpected!

    This book will take you through the tormented life of Mary Todd Lincoln. You can't help but feel her pain all the while knowing you might not make the same choices. I enjoyed the book as a very different historical look into a part of our nation's history.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2011

    Historically Correct???????

    Sorry, but I cannot recommend this book to anyone interested in the true story of Mary Lincoln Todd. Before I had read a little over half of the first hundred pages, it seemed as if I was reading a bad romance novel. The seduction of Abraham Lincoln??? I'm not even sure if I want to read anymore of this book if it's written in this manner. By way of warning, on the third page, there is a publisher's note: "This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously..." Yes, LOTS of imagination to come up with a story line such as this.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2011

    excellent reading

    i didnt knowwhat to expect when i got this book, but i enjoyed reading about mrs lincoln. i do believe she had a mental disease and an addictive personality. i definitely enjoyed reading this book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2007

    Got a lot of enjoyment out of this book.

    From the first page I could almost understand how she felt. My friends is now reading this book and she thought it is wonderful too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2007

    A Real Stretch

    Although this book is a novel and not a biography, one assumes that it is based mostly on historical data and not just the author's fantasies. It was a bit much to accept that Mrs. Lincoln suddenly turned into the 19th century Betty Ford while in the mental clinic, realizing that opiates were not good for her even though they were the method of treatment at that time. Of course she needed a clear head to write her 600 page memoir - which I could also accept until the incident where she plotted the seduction of Mr. Lincoln, literally stealing out of her home to his rooms in the dark of night. Literary license is great, but that ended it for me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    AMAZING

    Amazing is the only word to describe it. Its fast reading, interesting etc. I would recomend it to anyone.

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    Posted February 21, 2012

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    Posted March 28, 2011

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    Posted August 5, 2012

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    Posted April 5, 2011

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