From the prizewinning author of Mr. Timothy and The Pale Blue Eye comes Courting Mr. Lincoln, the page-turning and surprising story of a young Abraham Lincoln and the two people who loved him best: a sparky, marriageable Mary Todd and Lincoln’s best friend, Joshua Speed.
“In this sparkling tale of strategy and desire, Louis Bayard renders the origin story of the Lincoln-Todd marriage with a wit worthy of Jane Austen and the keen political insight of the best presidential biographers. When it comes to bringing our most revered historical figures to vivid life—and returning to them their full humanity—Louis Bayard has no peer. He is, quite simply, a master of the storytelling art.”—Liza Mundy, bestselling author of Code Girls
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.
Louis Bayard, a master storyteller at the height of his powers, delivers here a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities.
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.
Heather Abel’s debut novel, THE OPTIMISTIC DECADE, was published in May, 2018. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, the Los Angeles Times, and the online Paris Review among other places. She worked as a reporter and editor for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and High Country News, during which time she talked to gold miners, fossil hounds, Native American environmental activists, and really bored teens in rural Utah. She received an MFA in fiction writing from the New School University, and she’s taught writing at the New School, UMass Amherst, and Smith College. Raised in Santa Monica, she now lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and two daughters, and she dreams of the Colorado high desert.
A May Indie Next Pick
An Apple Books Best of the Month for April“A miracle; an exquisite story exquisitely told. If you love Jane Austen, or Hamilton, or fiction--of any era—that transports and transforms in equal measure, look no further. Courting Mr. Lincoln is as good as storytelling gets.” --A. J.