As a girl growing up in Kentucky, she lived a sheltered, privileged life filled with picnics and plantation balls. Vivacious, impulsive, and intoxicated by politics, she is a Todd of Lexington, an aristocratic family whose ancestors defeated the British. But no one knows her secret fears and anxieties. Although she is courted by the most eligible suitors in the land, including future senator Stephen Douglas, it is a gangly lawyer from Illinois who captures her heart. After a stormy courtship and a broken engagement, Abraham Lincoln will marry twenty-four-year-old Mary Todd and give her a ring inscribed with the words “Love Is Eternal.”
But their happiness won’t last nearly so long. Their first child will be born under the gathering clouds of a civil war, and three more follow. As Lincoln’s star rises, the pleasure-loving Mary learns, often the hard way, the rules of being a politician’s wife. But by the time the fiery storm of war passes, tragedy will have claimed two sons, scandal will shadow her days as First Lady, and an assassin’s bullet will take Lincoln himself, leaving Mary alone and all but forgotten by the nation that owed her husband its survival.
Yet it is in the years to come that Mary Todd Lincoln will truly come into her own. In public, she will fight to preserve Lincoln’s memory even as she battles a bitterly contested insanity trial. In private, she will struggle with depression and addiction as she endures the betrayals–both real and imagined–of family and friends.
With a gifted novelist’s imagination and a historian’s eye for detail, Barbara Hambly tells a story of astonishing scope, richly peopled with real-life characters and their fictional counterparts, a tour-de-force tale of power, politics, and the role of women in nineteenth- century America. The result is a Mary Todd Lincoln few have seen and none will forget–the fascinating, controversial woman of whom her husband could say: “My wife is as handsome as when she was a girl and I fell in love with her; and what is more, I have never fallen out”–Mary Todd, the woman who loved Abraham Lincoln.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Suspense & Thrillers eBook: The Emancipator's Wife|
|Release Date: 01-25-2005|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Emancipator's Wife
Chicago May 19, 1875
She was surrounded by enemies.
For the dozenth time Mary Lincoln glanced sharply behind her, heart hammering in her throat with both panic and rage.
Nothing. Bowler-hatted businessmen in natty suits bought newspapers from scruffy boys, barefoot in the spring heat. Tight-corseted women, the ruffled swags that trailed from their bustles sweeping the dirty sidewalk, paused by the windows of shops to admire and chat. Immigrant vendors in grubby corduroy yelled their wares from pushcarts-apples, kerchiefs, mousetraps, toys. A cab darted by along Clark Street, hooves clattering, iron tires banging, as it dodged around trolleys, carriages, drays of barreled beer.
Downtown Chicago on a spring morning. Heat swimming up from the sidewalk bricks; the stink of horse-droppings.
She knew she was being followed. For weeks now she'd been certain of it.
Who? she wondered. Why?
And quickened her step. The fear that had shadowed her all her fifty-seven years breathed again at her shoulder. Her feet were swollen in her tight black kid shoes and the snip of breeze that whispered from Lake Michigan died away, leaving her sweating beneath the thick black veils. Why didn't people get out of her way? She dodged past a dawdling woman by a shop window. Can't they see I'm a widow? I'm entitled to consideration on that score, aren't I? Even if they don't know whose widow I am.
Thinking about him, even after all these years, made her throat constrict with the grief that had never eased.
She had to get home.
She gazed longingly after another cab that rattled by-they all drove like lunatics in