Blog Tour: Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard
I’m so excited to be participating in my very first blog tour today for Courting Mr Lincoln by Louis Bayard!
A blog tour is essentially a virtual book tour. Multiple bloggers agree to write about a specific book in a set time frame. I accepted a free copy from the publisher in exchange for agreeing to post about the book this week!
First released in April 2019, Courting Mr. Lincoln is now available in paperback (as of February 11, 2020) with a lovely new cover that I think better represents the story.
To be embarrassingly honest, I wanted to read this novel because I expected it to be a romantic account of the courtship between Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd. And while that’s not the case, I thought the novel was fascinating. When I told my husband about it, he looked at me skeptically, “You were hoping for a sexy book about Abe Lincoln?” I could only shrug.
The novels come across as more of Mary Todd’s story. It starts out with her move to Springfield, Illinois in 1840. While living with her sister, Mary is introduced to society with the goal of finding her a husband.
I don’t think I’ve read a novel quite like this before, where characters were actual historical figures. I appreciated getting a different perspective of Lincoln as a younger man. While I know historical facts about him, it was neat to have an idea of what his personality was like, how he went about his days, and how he met his wife.
The perspectives shift between Mary’s and that of Joshua Speed, a close friend of Abe Lincoln’s.The character of Joshua Speed is especially interesting. His relationship with Lincoln in the book motivated me to do a little research and I was surprised (in a good way) to learn there has been debate over Lincoln’s sexuality. While that hint is present in the book, it isn’t forced or graphic, and is up to the reader’s interpretation.
While Lincoln and Todd’s courtship is detailed throughout the story, it’s not the only thing the book is about. Bayard does a fantastic job of blending historical facts with a fictionalized story. During the course of the novel, we learn about Lincoln’s life as an attorney, and the day to day happenings in a bustling new city.
At its core, this book is about relationships of different kinds, and how they were maintained according to the societal expectations at the time. Mary Todd was considered “old” to be unmarried, this put stress on her family relationships. Similarly, Lincoln was a bachelor in a time when aspiring politicians were expected to have wives to support them early on.
I highly recommend this novel for readers of historical fiction.
You can find out more about Louis Bayard on his website.