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Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln

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3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,980 Ratings  ·  528 Reviews
Mary Todd Lincoln is one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. The first president’s wife to be called First Lady, she was a political strategist, a supporter of emancipation, and a mother who survived the loss of three children and the assassination of her beloved husband. Yet she also ran her family into debt, held seances in the White House, and was commi ...more
Paperback, 621 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chrissie
Jan 27, 2015 Chrissie rated it liked it
What I think this book does better than the non-fiction books which I have previously read about Abraham Lincoln is to look at the personalities of Mary and Abraham, their relationship and Mary's relationship with her first son Robert. Another subject that is scarcely covered in the books below, but extensively covered here, is Mary's and Abraham's belief in the occult. Most of the names and events dealing with this subject seem to be true. I did a check on internet. The book focuses on Mary. It ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Wow. I have so much to say about this book. It was wonderful, engrossing, and hard to put down. It starts with Mary as a child who loses her mother and it is obvious from the get go that Mary has a problem with death, like many other people then and now. She tends to replace death with inanimate objects that give her comfort. She is a passionate woman. When she meets Mr. Lincoln (Indeed my only complaint is he is called Mr. Lincoln throughout the entire book..Never once did she refer to him or c ...more
Chris
Mar 13, 2009 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
This was an odd one for me. Although I plowed through 700+ pages in two weeks, as I was finishing it up this morning it dawned on me, I don't really like Mary! The story is the tale of Mary Todd Lincoln as she was committed in an insane asylum by her son, Robert Todd. Then there were stories looking back at her life. A sad, sad life she led: the loss of her husband and three sons; her only living son was absolutely horrible to her; she was a shopoholic and got herself in terrible debt, more than ...more
Sammy
Mar 29, 2008 Sammy rated it really liked it
Shelves: b-the-good
Yeah, I enjoyed this book, but when I think back on it not a lot sticks with me. I found it an interesting tale of a first lady we've heard of so much due to being wife to one of the most influential and great president's the U.S. has seen today, but yet we don't know much about. There are many things that made this book a unique and fun read.

One thing was that we got a new view on the Civil War. Many books are written about either soldiers or slaves, occasionally family members of those fightin
...more
Orsolya
By far, this is one of my favorite historical-fiction books. Newman succeeded in capturing the nuances, pains, entertainments, thoughts, and emotions of a wholly tragic and yet strong hero: Mary, the FIRST "First Lady".

If you see the other reviews, much debate comes across regarding whether Mary was a strong, feminine role model who simply wanted the love of her husband and children, or one with insane tendacies and paranoid thoughts. The fact that this debate exists, demonstrates that not only
...more
MAP
Anyone ever have a book they have SO much they want to write about/review that they end up writing nothing at all?
Julie
Mar 27, 2007 Julie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am glad I got this book from the library instead of buying it.
Angie McCrae
Mary is a fictionalized memoir written from the perspective of Mary Todd Lincoln while she was committed at the Bellevue Place Sanitarium by her son, Robert Todd. While Mary is in the asylum she looks back on her life and tells her story from her past days of meeting Abraham Lincoln and raising a family, Lincoln's presidency, and his subsequent assassination, to the present day in the asylum and having to live with the truly insane. The book is well written and the author does an excellent job o ...more
Christine
Aug 26, 2010 Christine rated it liked it
Read about 1/3 of this today just so I could get on to greener passages, BUT this book was not all bad. It is about Mary Lincoln, wife of Honest Abe, both about her eldest son committing her to an assylum as a lunatic and her looking back over her life. Mary turns out to be quite colorful, but as the book is historical fiction, you don't know what exactly is true and what is not.

From what I have read online and heard from book club members also reading the book, Mary is the most vilified First
...more
Sara
May 04, 2012 Sara rated it liked it
I can't decide how I feel about this book... It was definitely interesting, and I could NOT put it down. The life of Mary Todd Lincoln is fascinating-- she endured more in her lifetime than any person should have to. She lost 3 of her 4 sons as well as her husband to an assassin-- an event she witnessed. She was completely abused by the newspaper and other media of the time throughout her husband's presidency and for many, many years after, until her death. She was also committed against her wil ...more
Madelon
Jan 08, 2013 Madelon rated it it was amazing
This book was devastating. I know that it's fictional, but many facts of her life support the author's characterization. I really want to talk to somebody about this book. The fact that she was given laudanum and chloral hydrate - and told to drink as much as she wanted to "help her sleep" - because of "feminine" problems - clearly originated by the loss of 3 sons and the assassination of her husband as she sat by him - it just makes me sick. To think that women were so carelessly treated this w ...more
Theresa
Oct 06, 2015 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was captivated as I read this fictional biography of Abraham Lincoln's wife. My sympathy was deeply engaged with Mary as I read about her losing her mother at a young age and the lack of affection her new stepmother gave to her. I was most interested in the chapters describing their lives during and prior to the Civil War.

Mary Todd Lincoln had a tragic life. Eddie, at three years old, succumbs to illness and then a few years later, the Lincolns lose a second son, Willie, to typhoid. This disea
...more
Lydia Presley
Nov 14, 2010 Lydia Presley rated it really liked it
I admit to knowing very little about the Lincolns. I know what was taught in history, but very little of that centered around Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln is her fictional story, told through Mary’s own eyes and centers prominently around her admittance into an insane asylum.

I have to say, out of all the historical fiction books I’ve read this year, this one was the most depressing. I found myself torn between admiration for Mrs. Lincoln and horror at the very actions which caused he
...more
Lisa
Apr 22, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it
This fictionalized autobiography of Mary Todd Lincoln was supposedly penned during the time when her son, Robert, has her committed to a sanitarium. Historically, she was a tragic figure that endured the loss of three of her children and the assasination of her husband. Her one living son was estranged from her and eventually had her adjudicated insane. But, according to the author, Ms. Newman, we learn in a nutshell that Mary Todd Lincoln is the original Shopaholic from the chick-lit series!

Thi
...more
Camille
Aug 03, 2014 Camille rated it it was amazing
Loved this book for the incite and clarity Janis Newman brings to the very complicated personality of an historical figure previously portrayed as one dimensional. Not only do we get a nuanced look at Mary Lincoln, but the interactions between Mary and Abe. Janis also does an excellent job of portraying Abe Lincoln's brilliance as a strategist and politician while dealing with his many demons. Couldn't put it down.
Lisa
Feb 11, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and when I read it I obviously understand that some things will be fictionalized. But when writing about such prominent people as Mary and Abraham Lincoln, I feel the author carried a responsibility to be careful about what she choose to fictionalize --especially when she writes about Mary having affair while married to Abe.

Along that same line, the author only gave credit to ONE source in her "Acknowledgements" at the end of the book. You mean to tell m
...more
Deb
Jun 03, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it
The is the best fiction I have ever read about Mary Lincoln, better even than Irving Stone. Mary was a complex woman, buffeted by many disappointments and tragedies all her life, whose coping mechanisms were really not that different from people of today. What was different was her circumstances - her family perceives her marriage to be a social step down; she loses children to death, family to the Confederacy, and friends to distance. For a better understanding of just who this woman was, this ...more
Petra
Jun 27, 2010 Petra rated it it was amazing
Wow! I had expected to enjoy this book but enjoyed it so much more than expected. It's a very readable book and Mary is portrayed as a woman of deep emotional feelings....in a time when feelings and emotions were normally kept subdued. Trying to repress her emotions caused outlets in other ways...such as obsessive shopping.
Mary lived through more pain and grief and tragedy than anyone ever should. It's not a wonder that her obsessions overcame her for periods of time.
She may not have been ment
...more
Lisa
Aug 07, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
I so wanted to like this book more but...just couldn't finish it. Started off strong and then seemed to meander.
Ferne
Oct 31, 2015 Ferne rated it it was amazing
There is a quote on the front of the novel by USA Today, "You feel a compulsion to urge others to read it." Generally I pay no attention to quotes of this nature regardless of where they may appear. HOWEVER, as I closed the novel after reading the last page, it expresses my sentiment precisely.

Every individual interested in history ~ especially women's history in the United States ~ should read this book. Yes, it is fiction but never doubt how much you can learn through the reading of a novel.

It
...more
Stephanie
Sep 06, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
This novel explores the often hinted at eccentric behavior of Mary Todd Lincoln. I am partial to novels that delve into period culture and history, and this one does not disappoint. Sadly, she becomes a victim of her particular time, and expectation of the role of a genteel lady, or in her case lack of, and the prevailing cultural norm. If she were alive, today her needs would be addressed and her behavioral reaction to life's stresses sympathetically understood. Although this book is just over ...more
Valerie Petersen
Dec 30, 2009 Valerie Petersen rated it really liked it
I think I'll be reading this book for the entire month of December. It's very good...but very long!

This was a wonderful fictional account of Mary Todd Lincoln - told in the first person.

Mary was such a complex person - wife/widow of Abraham Lincoln, intelligent, politically savvy, mother of 3 children who died too soon, a compulsive shopper, committed to a mental institution by her son...
lots to think about - would make a great discussion!
Julia Wilson
Jul 21, 2015 Julia Wilson rated it really liked it
Mrs Lincoln by Janis Cooke Newman is a novel but based on fact. It had two time settings for the narrative, written in the first person from the point of view of Mary Lincoln. One is set in her present day, and this is interspersed with the past, beginning when Mary was a small girl and moving forward to her present.
There had clearly been a lot of research into Mary Lincoln by Janis Cooke Newman, as it was a very comprehensive, factual novel. Mary Lincoln was married to president Abraham Lincoln
...more
Shirley Brown
Oct 28, 2013 Shirley Brown rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found a greater sympathy for her than I have in other readings. She definitely had a difficult life, and the time she lived was not receptive of mentally ill people, and I think espceially women. Her son Robert, I think actually had some kind of mental illness as well. He did not treat or take care of his mother or wife in an acceptable manner. The book is well written.
Joyce
Aug 20, 2010 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not normally interested in historical biographies. However, though this is written as a novel, the life of Mary Lincoln Todd kept me glued to this book. So well written and so informative about her life, I kept turning pages to see what she would do next. This book depicts some the "mentally ill" things she did. Absolutely wonderful information. Great read.
Charlotte
May 15, 2010 Charlotte rated it really liked it
Throughout most of the book, I had to wonder if Mary's son was wrong about her sanity. I continued to wonder until I read late in the book about her shopping expeditions while living with Robert. I felt until then that her behavior could have been caused by her strong need for love which went unfulfilled and by her mourning for her sons and her husband.
Jan Stites
Aug 14, 2015 Jan Stites rated it it was amazing
When I got this 702 page book, I joked with the bookseller about how I didn't need to work out at the gym because who needs barbells with a book that weighs so much? I thought it highly unlikely since I don't read much historical fiction and rarely read long books that I would finish this one. Wrong. I got the book because the first couple of pages that I read online riveted me. Only it wasn't just the first two. I was so swept up in this story from Mary Todd Lincoln's point of view, a story tha ...more
LaurieH118
May 29, 2014 LaurieH118 rated it it was amazing
As time goes by and legends grow, politicians and their families cease to be people anymore and instead become icons. This book reminds us that before history enveloped them, Abraham and Mary Lincoln were flesh and blood human beings, with frailties and passions.

Told from Mary's POV, looking back on her remarkable life from her room in the genteel house for crazy ladies in Batavia, Illinois, this story gets all the familiar, basic facts of the Lincoln saga right. But instead of sounding like a d
...more
Jan
Mar 31, 2014 Jan rated it really liked it
For most of us our education about Mary Lincoln is limited to her as a crazy person. How did our teachers miss the fact that she was a brilliant political strategist and a rock for Mr. Lincoln? Not only does this book paint a deeper and broader picture of Mrs. Lincoln, but it puts 19th century moral and social values under a magnifying glass. How unsettling to see how easy it was to have her committed as crazy and how hard it was to prove that she wasn't. You have to ask, "How vulnerable would I ...more
Andrea
Jul 12, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing
This book had me hooked. I rate any book 5 stars if:
1. I hate to put it down/can't wait to return to it
2. It evokes some big emotion in me (happy or sad)
3. I keep thinking about it/want to tell others about it
4. It makes me want to learn more about the subject (I now want to read a biography on Mary Todd Lincoln)

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Janis Cooke Newman is the author of A Master Plan for Rescue , a magical novel about the surprising acts of heroism that can be inspired by love. She is also the author of Mary , a historical novel about Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary was chosen by USA Today as the best historical fiction of 2006 and was a finalist for the LA Times First Fiction award. She is also the author of The Russian Word for Snow ...more
More about Janis Cooke Newman...

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