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Courting Mr. Lincoln
Cover of Courting Mr. Lincoln
Courting Mr. Lincoln
A Novel
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A page-turning novel about the brilliant, melancholic future president and the two people who knew him best: his handsome and charming confidant (and roommate), Joshua Speed, and the spirited young debutante Mary Todd.
 
A Washington Post Bestseller
A May Indie Next Pick
An Apple Books Best of the Month for April
A People Magazine Best Book of the Week
 
“Exquisite.” —People
“A triumph of a novel.” —Bookreporter.com
“Rich, fascinating, and romantic.” —Newsday

When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one’s short list to be president. A country lawyer living above a dry goods shop, he is lacking both money and manners, and his gift for oratory surprises those who meet him. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with an 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: an amiable, profound man who, despite his awkwardness, has a gentle wit to match his genius, and who respects 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 inspired by historical events, 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. Louis Bayard, a master storyteller, delivers here a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities.
A page-turning novel about the brilliant, melancholic future president and the two people who knew him best: his handsome and charming confidant (and roommate), Joshua Speed, and the spirited young debutante Mary Todd.
 
A Washington Post Bestseller
A May Indie Next Pick
An Apple Books Best of the Month for April
A People Magazine Best Book of the Week
 
“Exquisite.” —People
“A triumph of a novel.” —Bookreporter.com
“Rich, fascinating, and romantic.” —Newsday

When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one’s short list to be president. A country lawyer living above a dry goods shop, he is lacking both money and manners, and his gift for oratory surprises those who meet him. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with an 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: an amiable, profound man who, despite his awkwardness, has a gentle wit to match his genius, and who respects 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 inspired by historical events, 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. Louis Bayard, a master storyteller, delivers here a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities.
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About the Author-
  • Louis Bayard is a New York Times Notable Book author and has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy. His most recent novel was the critically acclaimed young-adult title Lucky Strikes. He lives in Washington, DC, and teaches at George Washington University. Visit him online at www.louisbayard.com.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    November 15, 2018

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from January 15, 2019
    Historical thriller veteran Bayard (Lucky Strikes, 2016, etc.) finds suspense in the three-cornered relationship of Mary Todd, her awkward but compelling suitor, Abraham Lincoln, and his closest companion, debonair Joshua Speed.About to turn 21 when she arrives in Springfield in 1839, Mary teeters on the brink of old-maidenhood. She's too sharp-tongued and politically astute for the town's eligible men--including, she thinks regretfully, handsome merchant Joshua Speed, whom she initially finds more charming than his friend Lincoln, who is as tongue-tied with ladies as he is plainspokenly eloquent at the Illinois statehouse. But Mary becomes intrigued by Lincoln, a rising Whig politician who finds a woman with brains and savvy enticing rather than off-putting. She doesn't yet realize how destabilizing their budding romance is for Lincoln and Speed. For two years the men have shared a room and a bed, not in itself unusual for 19th-century bachelors, but as Lincoln hungrily learned the ways of polite society from his new friend, a deeper intimacy developed. By the time Mary appears, Lincoln and Speed, each profoundly lonely for his own reasons, share an unusually intense bond apparent to all. Alternating between Mary's and Joshua's points of view, Bayard chronicles the bumpy progression of the Lincoln-Todd courtship, its painful blow-up, and Lincoln's subsequent collapse into crippling depression. There are no villains in this acute and compassionate portrait: When Speed warns Lincoln that Mary "will drain [you] dry," we can see there's some truth in this statement but even more truth in Lincoln's retort, "Is it this girl you object to? Or is it any girl?" The author commendably refrains from imposing 21st-century sexual mores on the Lincoln-Speed relationship, profoundly loving but not physical in Bayard's depiction. Mary Todd, by contrast, gets a welcome contemporary reappraisal as a woman of spirit and will, not the needy hysteric painted by traditional historians.Not a lot of action, but in Bayard's skilled hands, three complicated people groping toward a new phase in their lives is all the plot you need.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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