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Fates and Traitors PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Fates and Traitors
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Publisher: Published September 13th 2016 by Dutton
ISBN: 9780525954309
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns with a riveting work of historical fiction following the notorious John Wilkes Booth and the four women who kept his perilous confidence. John Wilkes Booth, the mercurial son of an acclaimed British stage actor and a Covent Garden flower girl, committed one of the most notorious acts in American hist The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns with a riveting work of historical fiction following the notorious John Wilkes Booth and the four women who kept his perilous confidence. John Wilkes Booth, the mercurial son of an acclaimed British stage actor and a Covent Garden flower girl, committed one of the most notorious acts in American history—the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The subject of more than a century of scholarship, speculation, and even obsession, Booth is often portrayed as a shadowy figure, a violent loner whose single murderous act made him the most hated man in America. Lost to history until now is the story of the four women whom he loved and who loved him in return: Mary Ann, the steadfast matriarch of the Booth family; Asia, his loyal sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who adored Booth yet tragically misunderstood the intensity of his wrath; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow entrusted with the secrets of his vengeful plot. Fates and Traitors brings to life pivotal actors—some willing, others unwitting—who made an indelible mark on the history of our nation. Chiaverini portrays not just a soul in turmoil but a country at the precipice of immense change.

30 review for Fates and Traitors

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    I'm a bit torn on this one, which is why I've put off reviewing it for so long. While it was a bit dull and flat at times, I enjoyed reading a fictional account of John Wilkes Booth and found the plot interesting. I just felt the execution, along with a bit more editing of filler material, could have made this so much better. Full review to come. *Thanks Dutton for my copy!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)

    DNF @ page 48 This book is just not for me. I am finding it rather dry with an over abundance of details. I was looking forward to a historical fiction novel but the way this book read reminds me more of a detail heavy biography. I could force myself to continue reading but I am just going to stop at this point since I am not enjoying it. I am sure that this book will have its audience but it didn't work for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Find this and other reviews at: http://historicalfictionreader.blogsp... I’ve grown rather wary of dedicating my time and energy to novels by Jennifer Chiaverini. I mean no offense to either the author or her fan base, but I found both The Spymistress and Mrs. Lincoln Rival one-sided and unintuitive. I believe that looking at history from a number of angles has value regardless of who was right and who was wrong and my experience with Chiaverini’s style and tone left me in doubt of her ability to Find this and other reviews at: http://historicalfictionreader.blogsp... I’ve grown rather wary of dedicating my time and energy to novels by Jennifer Chiaverini. I mean no offense to either the author or her fan base, but I found both The Spymistress and Mrs. Lincoln Rival one-sided and unintuitive. I believe that looking at history from a number of angles has value regardless of who was right and who was wrong and my experience with Chiaverini’s style and tone left me in doubt of her ability to scrutinize the Union and Confederate causes in equal measure. I respect that there are readers out there who appreciate Chiaverini’s brand of storytelling and I am genuinely thrilled that they enjoy her work, but as a matter of personal taste, I resolved to steer clear. That is until I stumbled over a copy of Fates and Traitors. I’ve studied John Wilkes Booth in the past and there is no shortage of fiction dedicated to his heinous crime, but this volume was different. From the description, I knew the novel was actually about Mary Ann Holmes, Asia Booth, Lucy Lambert Hale, and Mary Surratt, but Booth was the obvious center of the novel and I couldn’t help wondering if this was the volume that would change my opinion of Chiaverini. I’m not above admitting that authors have surprised me in the past and I actually love seeing writers grow and develop so after some serious consideration, I determined to break my rule and set out to discover if needed to order myself a heaping helping of humble pie. At two stars, there should be no question as to how I ultimately felt about the narrative, but I think it important to note that despite my general disappointment, there were elements of the story that I actually liked. The prologue was written from John’s perspective and I actually felt it the strongest chapter of the entire novel. Chiaverini’s exploration of Booth and his emotions in his final hours left me in absolute awe. I was blown away and honestly wish she’d dropped the woman entirely and spent the whole of the narrative following Booth’s relationships from Booth’s point of view. I also grew a certain appreciation for Lucy. Her relationship with John was the most authentic and relevant of the novel and I enjoyed the ideas and themes that Chiaverini presented in her chapters of the narrative. That said, I was intensely disappointed with Chiaverini’s representation of both Mary Ann and Asia. Neither are shown to have had a particularly deep relationship with John and I couldn’t help feeling their stories superfluous. Most of their interactions with Booth take place at a distance and I honestly wish Chiaverini had left well enough alone and cut them entirely. Mary Surratt served as another weak point in the narrative thanks to her stereotypic and superficial characterization, but my feelings about both Asia and Mary were compounded by how Dutton Publishing marketed their inclusion in the narrative. Contrary to what the cover purports, Chiaverini’s subjects are not lost to history. I’ll grant that Booth’s Sister by Jane Singer was a disappointment and is virtually unknown, but Susan Higgenbotham’s Hanging Mary was well-publicized at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver in 2015 and released to the wider market a full six months ahead of Fates and Traitors. Robert Redford also directed a film about Mary in 2010 that starred Robin Wright and James McAvoy, but I suppose those names don’t ring any bells for whoever penned the lie memorialized in this jacket description. When all is said and done, I felt Fates and Traitors unbalanced. The fact that that women were not equal influences in John’s life made it difficult for me to appreciate their inclusion in the narrative and I maintain the book would have been much stronger if it was written from Booth’s point of view. Despite my appreciation for Lucy, I thought the strongest conflict of the novel was the rivalry that existed between Edwin and John and unfortunately, that relationship was not one that could explored with any degree of depth by the women who existed in its shadow. The women themselves live largely independent lives and without Booth have no real connection or historic importance which left me questioning what the author was trying to get at when drafting this manuscript.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This was a fascinating look into the life of John Wilkes Booth and the people in his life. Honestly, I'd always thought of him as some sort of vengeful monster and thought nothing at all of the people in his life. This book wasn't always fast-paced, but it was so thought-provoking. I had no idea that his parents were immigrants who abhorred slavery. We often forget how the people who are close to notorious criminals are presumed to be guilty as well...and how they suffer with little sympathy in This was a fascinating look into the life of John Wilkes Booth and the people in his life. Honestly, I'd always thought of him as some sort of vengeful monster and thought nothing at all of the people in his life. This book wasn't always fast-paced, but it was so thought-provoking. I had no idea that his parents were immigrants who abhorred slavery. We often forget how the people who are close to notorious criminals are presumed to be guilty as well...and how they suffer with little sympathy in the aftermath of their loved ones crimes because of it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Roger Brunyate

    The Assassin and his Women Go ahead, judge a book by its cover. The advance edition I obtained through Amazon Vine has the title in white against of dim monochrome photograph of John Wilkes Booth posing with a woman, I think his sister Asia. Half-covering the photo and intertwined with the lettering are sprigs of dogwood blossom in scarlet. It advertises as clear as anything that although this is a life of the famous actor ending shortly after his assassination of President Lincoln, it will be to The Assassin and his Women Go ahead, judge a book by its cover. The advance edition I obtained through Amazon Vine has the title in white against of dim monochrome photograph of John Wilkes Booth posing with a woman, I think his sister Asia. Half-covering the photo and intertwined with the lettering are sprigs of dogwood blossom in scarlet. It advertises as clear as anything that although this is a life of the famous actor ending shortly after his assassination of President Lincoln, it will be told through the vehicle of romance. Indeed, the back cover promises a portrait of… …the four women whom he loved and who loved him in return: Mary Ann, the steadfast matriarch of the Booth family; Asia, his loyal sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator's daughter who adored him yet tragically misunderstood the intensity of his wrath; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow entrusted with the secrets of his vengeful plot. There will be a readership for this, I am sure, but I should have known that it was not for me. I ordered the book only because earlier this year I wrote the text for a short opera about Booth and his possible involvement in an earlier plot to kill Lincoln in Baltimore in 1861. That involved a romance too, I will admit. But it made it difficult for me to go from the compression of a twenty-minute drama to a four-hundred-page novel. The readers for whom Jennifer Chiaverini is really writing will not have this problem, and will probably enjoy her book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erika Robuck

    It takes a writer of great skill to animate a man as notorious as John Wilkes Booth into a character so fascinating the reader can scarcely look away; Chiaverini has succeeded. I admit, I was not keen on reading a book about Booth, but Chiaverini’s use of the women around him to tell his story was brilliant. Booth’s parents, his siblings, his love interests, and coconspirators are a cast like no other. Viewed from the present day, their bad choices clearly and obviously set them on a path of dest It takes a writer of great skill to animate a man as notorious as John Wilkes Booth into a character so fascinating the reader can scarcely look away; Chiaverini has succeeded. I admit, I was not keen on reading a book about Booth, but Chiaverini’s use of the women around him to tell his story was brilliant. Booth’s parents, his siblings, his love interests, and coconspirators are a cast like no other. Viewed from the present day, their bad choices clearly and obviously set them on a path of destruction, but Chiaverini demonstrates how such errors were made in their present time. She does not romanticize the traitors and is unflinching in her portrayal of them. If many readers are like me, my knowledge of what happened ended with the assassination of Lincoln. The chapters following the terrible deed are every bit as shocking as those that preceded it. Though FATES AND TRAITORS is a novel, fans of the work of Erik Larson and Laura Hillenbrand will love how this story reveals so much more history than we thought we knew. Breathless pacing, historical figures of enormous influence, and unspeakable acts of treason make FATES AND TRAITORS one of the most riveting works of historical fiction I’ve read so far this year. I give it my highest recommendation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen Kay

    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Just couldn't get into this book. So much detail and background on everybody!! No rating Abandoned at 20%

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linn

    I would give this book a solid 3.5 or 3.75 stars if I could, so I went with four. I would like all people who are capable of assassinating a president (or anyone for that matter) to have certain characteristics and a personality that would make them easily identifiable and even better, make it simple to prevent such a thing from happening because the general public could see it coming. That was completely not the case with John Wilkes Booth and it still blows my mind the kind of person I imagine I would give this book a solid 3.5 or 3.75 stars if I could, so I went with four. I would like all people who are capable of assassinating a president (or anyone for that matter) to have certain characteristics and a personality that would make them easily identifiable and even better, make it simple to prevent such a thing from happening because the general public could see it coming. That was completely not the case with John Wilkes Booth and it still blows my mind the kind of person I imagined he was (just from the very little I had heard of him) vs. the actual person he was in his short life. This was just an incredibly interesting book to me, especially the chapters of the family he grew up in. My only complaints were that, at times, the amount of detail went on for a few too many pages and it felt laborious to read. In addition, being a historical fiction, I could have used different colors of font, where anything based on history would be easily apparent. If you can't tell, I like things in my life easy to identify and wrapped up in predictable packages. I'm pretty exciting to be around.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eshadi Sharif

    DNF at 22% Goodreads really needs a DNF option cause I'm torn between which shelf I should put it in. It's not exactly a bad book but I'd rather say it's not my type of historical fiction. I wasn't loving the plot and I couldn't get myself to get further than 22% but I do plan on continuing in the future.

  10. 5 out of 5

    KC

    This is the story of John Wilkes Booth and his family, his secret fiance Lucy Hale and her family, and inn keeper Mary Surratt and her family, and how their lives intertwined with President Abraham Lincoln. A wonderfully told tale of one of the most notorious and important events in our history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christine Roberts

    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by Jennifer Chiaverini about the infamous John Wilkes Booth. Reading about his childhood, maturity, and eventual assassination of President Lincoln was fascinating. I am a big fan of Civil War era historical fiction, and Chiaverini brings the period to life in exquisite detail. Thanks to NetGalley, Jennifer Chiaverini, and Dutton for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jody McGrath

    * I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.* John Wilkes Booth is a name everyone still knows today. He was the assassinator of President Abraham Lincoln. Whiles this is a story of that fateful day, it is also so much more. It tells the story of Wilkes' life from the perspective of the 4 women who knew him the best; his beloved mother, his adoring sister, his secret fiancé, and his co-conspirator. Although it is a fictionalization of his life, the author really p * I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.* John Wilkes Booth is a name everyone still knows today. He was the assassinator of President Abraham Lincoln. Whiles this is a story of that fateful day, it is also so much more. It tells the story of Wilkes' life from the perspective of the 4 women who knew him the best; his beloved mother, his adoring sister, his secret fiancé, and his co-conspirator. Although it is a fictionalization of his life, the author really put a lot of research and facts into the story. This could be exactly what happened behind the scenes. Jennifer Chiaverini brings these characters to life, the way most history books fail to do. She does not take away the evil acts of John Wilkes Booth, but she reminds us all that he was also a man, who had a life and people who loved him. She starts her story before Wilkes was even born, with his mother Mary Ann. Mary Ann was written as a mother who loved her son, her favorite son, to the point where she overlooked his flaws. She refused to see the man he was becoming, holding tight to the boy he was. Next the story is picked up by his sister, Asia. Asia idolized her brother, and loved him even though she saw the path he was heading towards. Even after that fateful night, she still never stopped loving the brother she knew. Lucy Hale is our third storyteller, and her story is one of romance and love. This was perhaps the most fictionalized portion of the story. Although, it was common knowledge that Wilkes was courting Lucy, most of this naïve love affair is based on rumors and conjectures. Still, it is completely plausible and gives us a different perspective of John Wilkes Booth. Our last woman storyteller is Mary Surratt, the owner of the boardinghouse where Wilkes planned various traitorous acts. The author is able to make her a sympathetic character, even though she is a knowing participant in certain events. The action of the assassination is told by Wilkes himself, whom by this time is not only a villian in your mind, but a man fighting for his beliefs, however zealous they might be. The author wraps up the story beautifully, by alternating points of view to show the aftermath and the effects Wilkes' act brought onto others. This is not just a story about a day in history, this is the story of a man's life and the lives of those he loved. It is an excellent book and will be adored not only by those who like historical novels, but also those who enjoy literary fiction. I recommend this book strongly, to everyone who knows that there is always two sides of every story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    nikkia neil

    'Thanks PENGUIN GROUP Dutton and netgalley for this ARC. We all know the story but this book offers the perspective of all the players together plus Booth's family. This book made me think about what historical figures our future's children may read about in 100 years. Nothing stays hidden forever, but the understanding and empathy take time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but I really enjoyed this book. I found myself searching the internet many times to learn more about the events, but the author did a really good job with her research. Not many people know much about John Wilkes Booth and his life leading up to Lincoln's assassination. We learn a lot about the people in his life and his love for Lucy. Although the dialogue is mostly fiction, I found it very relevant to the situations. The whole book was intriguing an I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but I really enjoyed this book. I found myself searching the internet many times to learn more about the events, but the author did a really good job with her research. Not many people know much about John Wilkes Booth and his life leading up to Lincoln's assassination. We learn a lot about the people in his life and his love for Lucy. Although the dialogue is mostly fiction, I found it very relevant to the situations. The whole book was intriguing and kept my interest more than most historical fiction I have previously read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Swann

    3.5 stars. Overall, I enjoyed this book. The history was interesting. I liked how each chapter (although they were incredibly long) focused on a woman in John Wilkes Booth's life. From his mother and sister to his accomplices and his true love. Each was different and I liked seeing how he interacted with them. There wasn't much as far as the assassination plot so I would have liked more of that. But it was enjoyable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    Facts and Traitors totally consumed me in its entirety. The author's style of writing reveals great historical detail in the events that led up to the assasination of President Lincoln, and I found it to be quite informative. The story begins with Mary Ann Holmes, the mother of John Wilkes Booth. He was most certainly her favorite son. Junius Brutus Booth - tragedian actor, impulsive and eccentric, abandoned his lawful wife, Adelaide, and his legitimate son, to run off with Mary Ann Holmes. His Facts and Traitors totally consumed me in its entirety. The author's style of writing reveals great historical detail in the events that led up to the assasination of President Lincoln, and I found it to be quite informative. The story begins with Mary Ann Holmes, the mother of John Wilkes Booth. He was most certainly her favorite son. Junius Brutus Booth - tragedian actor, impulsive and eccentric, abandoned his lawful wife, Adelaide, and his legitimate son, to run off with Mary Ann Holmes. His children with Mary Ann were forced to face the shame of illegitimacy. Mary Ann gave him a peaceful home and adoring children, but he caused her much worry and anxiety. She continued to be by his side because she couldn't imagine life without him. And the story unfolds through the lives of three more women, all who played an important role in John Wilkes Booth's life. I found it quite sad how the survivors lives were forever tainted because of this evil and dark event in our history. Simply a fascinating read you won't want to miss! My rating 5 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Traveling Sister :)

    DNF I didn't rate this book as I didn't finish it. I just couldn't punish myself to plod along any more. So disappointing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is a hard book to say that I 'liked'. It is, after all, a novelisation about the life of, and the ultimate act of treason by, one of, if not *the* most infamous people of the 19th century. Even after reading this book, I still shudder when I think of John Wilkes Booth. Even so, I *did* (do!) like this book. Jennier Chiaverini is one of those authors who does her research, and that fact shines in her work, especially her novelisations of key players in the American Civil War era. Through the This is a hard book to say that I 'liked'. It is, after all, a novelisation about the life of, and the ultimate act of treason by, one of, if not *the* most infamous people of the 19th century. Even after reading this book, I still shudder when I think of John Wilkes Booth. Even so, I *did* (do!) like this book. Jennier Chiaverini is one of those authors who does her research, and that fact shines in her work, especially her novelisations of key players in the American Civil War era. Through the chapters detailing the lives and thoughts of the 4 women who were closest to Booth (his mother Mary Ann, sister Asia, sweetheart Lucy, and co-conspirator Mary), I felt like I came to know who John Wilkes Booth might have been, and what his motivations were. That said, it was definitely a difficult book to read. I wanted to shake Mary Ann and Junius (Wilkes' father) for their own traitorous choices back in England, and the fact that both of them seem to remain unrepentant of those choices throughout their lives broke my heart. That, and the details of the conspiracy against Abraham Lincoln make me hesitant to recommend this book, though I think that if you are aware of these issues, and realise that there is very little chance of actually liking many of the characters in this book, you may read and end up liking the storytelling itself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    Some people are naturally charming; they are the center of every social group they touch. They are their Mother's favorite, as well as their sister's, the neighbor boy's, the teacher's and on and on. If they are made of hardy stuff they handle this adulation well and grow beyond it. If not, everything comes to them too easily and soon their every whim is made manifest. It is the latter example that is explored with great effect in "Fates and Traitors" a fictionalized account of John Wilkes Booth Some people are naturally charming; they are the center of every social group they touch. They are their Mother's favorite, as well as their sister's, the neighbor boy's, the teacher's and on and on. If they are made of hardy stuff they handle this adulation well and grow beyond it. If not, everything comes to them too easily and soon their every whim is made manifest. It is the latter example that is explored with great effect in "Fates and Traitors" a fictionalized account of John Wilkes Booth's life and penultimate deed. The author explores Booth's life mostly through the adulation of the girls and women surrounding him. While not a large number, they are a devoted crew, determined to stand by him even when he has been accused of assassination. Their lives are nearly destroyed in the process yet they remain startlingly incredulous about his actions. He remains, in their minds at least, too fine, handsome and gifted to have engaged in such low activity. This book is engaging and well worth reading for its exploration of the blind side of infatuation. -Suzanne R.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna H

    I think this is a strong 2.5-star novel, but I was hoping for better -- did not finish after 100 pages. I felt like I was getting bored after the introduction, but Chiaverini's description of Booth's parents' swashbuckling, ocean-crossing affair was hard to put down. It's just too bad the that momentum feels like it grinds to a halt as she moves onto the other women in Booth's life. "Fates and Traitors" is a historical novel/biography about John Wilkes Booth, but told from the point of view of t I think this is a strong 2.5-star novel, but I was hoping for better -- did not finish after 100 pages. I felt like I was getting bored after the introduction, but Chiaverini's description of Booth's parents' swashbuckling, ocean-crossing affair was hard to put down. It's just too bad the that momentum feels like it grinds to a halt as she moves onto the other women in Booth's life. "Fates and Traitors" is a historical novel/biography about John Wilkes Booth, but told from the point of view of the females in his life. The problem is, he's hardly a footnote in the first section told from his mother's point of view. In the second told from his sister, Asia's viewpoint, he's a background player. The development of his character is inconsistent and I'm starting to wonder who this book is really supposed to be about. I got bored. Chiaverini is a really good writer, and maybe if I was feeling a little less ADD this week, I'd continue with it, but I'm putting this one down for now. I have a big pile of books that just look way more enticing than this! Not sure if that makes me a bad reader, but I just can't make myself care that much about Lincoln's assassin right now.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I was afraid that I would never get into the mood to read about such a villain. But as usual, Chiaverini draws the reader in and I was hooked on the story almost immediately. I learned so much about the Booth family (all northerners and abolitionists, btw, with the one exception) that this book has changed my view of the whole episode. It was a tragedy is so many ways, and involving so many people. The love story was quite unexpected, but added so much. I highly recommend this engrossing histori I was afraid that I would never get into the mood to read about such a villain. But as usual, Chiaverini draws the reader in and I was hooked on the story almost immediately. I learned so much about the Booth family (all northerners and abolitionists, btw, with the one exception) that this book has changed my view of the whole episode. It was a tragedy is so many ways, and involving so many people. The love story was quite unexpected, but added so much. I highly recommend this engrossing historical novel.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    My interest permanently flagged partway into the Lucy Hale chapter. Maybe I'm burned out on takes on John Wilkes Booth. Honestly, I found the initial part about paterfamilias Junius Brutus and his infidelity & elopement with Covent Garden flower girl Mary Ann Holmes to be far more interesting, though Chiaverini's writing was rather underwhelming for the most part. At points it was hard to tell if she wanted to write historical fiction or a biography, the vignettes just kept plodding along. I My interest permanently flagged partway into the Lucy Hale chapter. Maybe I'm burned out on takes on John Wilkes Booth. Honestly, I found the initial part about paterfamilias Junius Brutus and his infidelity & elopement with Covent Garden flower girl Mary Ann Holmes to be far more interesting, though Chiaverini's writing was rather underwhelming for the most part. At points it was hard to tell if she wanted to write historical fiction or a biography, the vignettes just kept plodding along. I do wish some authors would tear their googly-eyes away from romanticizing an assassin and give Edwin some attention. He's got oodles of twagic dwama in his life, and - what's more - he didn't murder anybody!

  23. 4 out of 5

    K

    "...the Fates with traitors do contrive." "She could not have been the best, the noblest of mothers to have raised him to believe it could ever be right to shoot a man in the back of the head while he sat with his wife watching a play." I liked this book SO very much. Told from the viewpoints of the four women closest to John Wilkes Booth, it's a compelling tale. I was fascinated to learn about Wilkes' family - how they loved him and endured the after effects of his heinous deed. How Shakespearean "...the Fates with traitors do contrive." "She could not have been the best, the noblest of mothers to have raised him to believe it could ever be right to shoot a man in the back of the head while he sat with his wife watching a play." I liked this book SO very much. Told from the viewpoints of the four women closest to John Wilkes Booth, it's a compelling tale. I was fascinated to learn about Wilkes' family - how they loved him and endured the after effects of his heinous deed. How Shakespearean they were. His mother, Mary Ann, who defied convention and ran away with her one true love, giving up her own family and her good name. As she holds Wilkes for the first time, she feels he is destined for greatness although "He's so small to bear the weight of such expectations...". To sister Asia, he is a trusted confidant and best friend yet "the brother she adored was a spy, a smuggler, a rebel, and each terrible word meant death." To Lucy Hale "inhaling deeply of his scent - tobacco smoke, cedar, and something else uniquely his," he is the dashing actor who steals her heart even as she knows that their relationship will never be accepted. He was not at all a sympathetic character, however, nor was Mary Surratt. I admired Mary's strength and ability to care for herself in spite of an abusive husband ("...learned about husbands was that she was better off without one") and with no family other than her children, it's easy to see why she shelters a rebellion. With her strong beliefs in her Catholicism and the Southern cause, I was surprised when "Fighting to keep her own terror constrained, Mary was struck by the sharp, unexpected misgivings that she had ever welcomed Mr. Booth into her parlor." No doubt, one of the best books I've read this year. A lovely surprise. P. S. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    RATING: 2 STARS (I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY) (Review Not on Blog) Jennifer Chiaverini is one writer I admire for her research ability. Sometimes I find that her facts and details overpower the story and make the character a bit wooden. I really did enjoyed Spymistress and Mrs. Lincoln's Rival. While I enjoy reading and learning about Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth is not a historical character I gravitate towards. Yet, I was exited to see Chiaverini's take on this moment of hist RATING: 2 STARS (I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY) (Review Not on Blog) Jennifer Chiaverini is one writer I admire for her research ability. Sometimes I find that her facts and details overpower the story and make the character a bit wooden. I really did enjoyed Spymistress and Mrs. Lincoln's Rival. While I enjoy reading and learning about Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth is not a historical character I gravitate towards. Yet, I was exited to see Chiaverini's take on this moment of history and know more about Booth. I tried to read it at first, but couldn't get beyond the first chapter. I have enjoyed Chiaverini's novels on audio so put a hold on immediately. After who knows how many hours, days, pages, I had to give up (at 60%). It came to point I had not gotten another book in and was feeling restless and a bit resentful. It was written well, and is well researched. The story just too detailed to be fun. I am excited to read Ada Lovelace's story, the next Chiaverini's novel.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Koehler

    This was such a cool read. It took off like a bat outta hell and was pretty quick-paced until the actual assassination happened. (Spoiler alert: Lincoln dies.) The story of each of the women who loved Booth and who showed him compassion and decency throughout his formative years was really fascinating. I guess I always assumed that Booth was this heinous villain, but after reading this, I actually sympathize with him a bit more. (Is that wrong?) Much like HH Holmes, Booth was brilliantly smart, This was such a cool read. It took off like a bat outta hell and was pretty quick-paced until the actual assassination happened. (Spoiler alert: Lincoln dies.) The story of each of the women who loved Booth and who showed him compassion and decency throughout his formative years was really fascinating. I guess I always assumed that Booth was this heinous villain, but after reading this, I actually sympathize with him a bit more. (Is that wrong?) Much like HH Holmes, Booth was brilliantly smart, handsome, romantic, charming, charismatic, and loyal. And yet — he was fiercely dedicated to the ideals of the Confederacy, despite the fact that EVERYONE who loved him (including friends and family) were supportive of Lincoln and the Union efforts to abolish slavery and unify America. Essentially, he WAS a patriot — just not for the side which most people would now consider to be the right one. He saw Lincoln as a tyrant rather than a Savior, and he legitimately believed that if the South lost, the nation would never recover economically from the abolishment of slavery. It’s easy to look at Booth in hindsight and through the eyes of the proverbial “Monday morning quarterback” and say he was crazy. But after reading this book, I think he was just caught up in what was agonizing politics of the era. The only thing to blame for his actions are essentially POSITIVE influences, and how is that even possible, right? He loves Virginia and its people because they embraced him so lovingly when he performed there. He loved the slower pace and genteel ways of Southerners. He respected a man’s right (whether it was right or wrong morally/ethically) to use a perfectly legal system of forced labor to become financially successful. Look, by no means am I saying that Booth was right to kill the president, but I AM saying that this book gives significant insight as to why he did it, and it also shows how absolutely shocked and saddened his own friends and family were to learn of his heinous act. He 100% blindsided those who loved him. Simply put, this book will resonate with ANYONE who has been hurt by someone they THOUGHT they knew. And who among us hasn’t experienced that kind of betrayal? Disclaimer: yes. I know. Of course not to that extent, but my point is clear, right?)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ginny Hawkenson

    This was a good read, I really enjoyed it. This is the kind of book that I really enjoy most, a novelization of real, historical events with the real people that were involved. This is very well written overall, it did drag in a few spots and the storyline with John Surratt's sister seemed extraneous and unnecessary, and we got to know more about Lucy Hale and the Hale family than I felt was necessary although that did speak to the "slick" nature of John Wilkes Booth's character. Generally a fas This was a good read, I really enjoyed it. This is the kind of book that I really enjoy most, a novelization of real, historical events with the real people that were involved. This is very well written overall, it did drag in a few spots and the storyline with John Surratt's sister seemed extraneous and unnecessary, and we got to know more about Lucy Hale and the Hale family than I felt was necessary although that did speak to the "slick" nature of John Wilkes Booth's character. Generally a fascinating look into a historic figure I have not given much thought to.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and this book was just so well-written, and well-researched, that it fully deserves the very rare (for me) 5 star designation. I learned so much from this book that I did not know about the notorious John Wilkes Booth! I had no idea that his family were northerners who did not believe in slavery, for example. The author does a great job bringing Washington City & her inhabitants to life during a difficult and historic time. What a wonderful read!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I guess I’m maybe not a big fan of Chiaverini’s writing (?) I felt like this one perhaps needed to be a straight-on nonfiction look into the subjects instead of trying to be a fictional story. The characters seemed flat and their thoughts/dialogue came off unbelievable & hokey, at times. I liked the prologue chapter (despite the hokey conversational style), but didn’t find the meat of the story to hold my interest so much.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    While I really enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini's books, this one was harder for me to read. I'm not sure why. I don't think it was her writing, but rather my reluctance to get involved in the life of Booth. But it was a fascinating look into the lives of the people he most affected by his actions, and as always, I learned a lot of interesting historical information about him and the period.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    3.5 stars really I found it intriguing to say the least. Not sure how much was true but she has multiple sources listed on the last few pages. I wish he had kept a journal or something that would help people see what changed him from a happy child to a man hell bent on murder. A child raised to respect and cherish all life, wish harm to someone because he said slavery was evil and wrong.

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