Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Review: Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard

Courting Mr. Lincoln
by Louis Bayard

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 381
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one's shortlist to be president. Rough and reticent, he’s a country lawyer lacking money and manners, living above a dry goods shop, but with a gift for oratory. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with a tireless interest in debates and elections, at first finds him an enigma. “I can only hope,” she tells his roommate, the handsome, charming Joshua Speed, “that his waters being so very still, they also run deep.”

It’s not long, though, before she sees the Lincoln that Speed knows: a man who, despite his awkwardness, is amiable and profound, with a gentle wit to match his genius and a respect for her keen political mind. But as her relationship with Lincoln deepens, she must confront his inseparable friendship with Speed, who has taught his roommate how to dance, dress, and navigate the polite society of Springfield.

Told in the alternating voices of Mary Todd and Joshua Speed, and rich with historical detail, Courting Mr. Lincoln creates a sympathetic and complex portrait of Mary unlike any that has come before; a moving portrayal of the deep and very real connection between the two men; and most of all, an evocation of the unformed man who would grow into one of the nation’s most beloved presidents.

Kritters Thoughts:  An interesting look at Abraham Lincoln's life before he was anywhere near the national spotlight.  He was living in Springfield, IL and there were two very important people in his life - his roommate, Joshua Speed who owned a store and shared a bed with Lincoln and the woman he eventually courted and married, Mary Todd.  Through the eyes of these two people we learn about a Lincoln who maybe isn't discussed that often as a lawyer and starting to speak up about the future of the Illinois and the United States. 

I am an Abraham Lincoln fan.  I could read almost anything about him, but all of what I have read focused on his presidential years, so I appreciated this unique look at a time where he wasn't the immensely popular man that he became.  There are chapters from each Mary and Joshua and it was interesting when their stories overlapped at times to see the same instance through both of their eyes.  

I was completely partial to Mary's story and enjoyed her view a little better.  I don't know if that is because I know her and didn't know Mr. Speed or because I am a woman and I would love to imagine the qualities that drew Lincoln to Mary.  I could have read a whole book solely from her viewpoint and would have loved it completely.  I wasn't aware of the history of their relationship, so it is always nice to learn something new!

An overall great book and I love when I read a historical fiction book and I learn something new while enjoying a great story. 

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 8 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Algonquin.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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