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Mary

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3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  3,202 Ratings  ·  555 Reviews
A dramatic tale filled with passion and depression, poverty and ridicule, infidelity and redemption, this is the unforgettable story of Mary Todd Lincoln–one of history’s most enigmatic and misunderstood women.

Writing from Bellevue asylum–where the shrieks of the other inmates keep her awake at night–a famous widow finally shares the story of her life in her own words. Fro
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Paperback, 636 pages
Published October 16th 2007 by Anchor Canada (first published January 1st 2006)
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Holly I would consider a fiction telling based on fact...kind of like a movie that is based on true events.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Chrissie
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
Sammy
Mar 19, 2008 Sammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Chris
Feb 27, 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
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
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Julie
Mar 12, 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.
MAP
Anyone ever have a book they have SO much they want to write about/review that they end up writing nothing at all?
Madelon
Jan 02, 2013 Madelon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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Sara
May 04, 2012 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Theresa
Oct 01, 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
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Ellen
Apr 05, 2017 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction
Recommended to Ellen by: read for book club.
I think this book was too long, 200 pgs could have been edited out. If you like historical fiction, you might like this book, it has Mary Todd Lincoln writing a diary/or letter to her surviving son while she is in the sanitarium. Her son Robert, put her in the sanitarium. The book really makes you think about how terrible it must have been to be a woman in that time period. The drugs they were using to "cure" Mary must certainly have added to her mental problems. Each entry to the letter starts ...more
Maren
Jul 20, 2017 Maren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
I am a fan of historical fiction, so I was excited at the idea of this book. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The writing is passable I suppose, but that's the best I can say. It's so overlong - 150 pages could have easily been cut from this book and with good editing and better writing and not lose a thing from the plot. Finishing this book felt like a chore. Two stars because it wasn't a COMPLETE train-wreck, but I would not recommend this to anyone.
Cheryl Grimm
Jun 24, 2017 Cheryl Grimm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What a sad era for women, when having any sort of passion would put you in an institution. From her early years to that of being President Lincoln's widow, we read a "fictional" telling of her life. A frustrating read in that we have come so far and to know how much they suffered. A brave, vivacious and highly intelligent woman, she deserved so much, much more.
Jillian
This is one of the saddest books I've ever read. It's like THE MADWOMAN IN THE ATTIC. Literally, it's a whole novel about that woman: the one locked up and hidden away for having inconvenient emotions and freedom of thought. Only it's about Mary Todd Lincoln. Because she may have been that woman. (I think she was, personally.)

Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln is an imaginative exploration of the point of view of Mary Todd Lincoln, who was sent to an asylum by her son Robert (and the court) in the late 1800s
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Lisa
Jun 16, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lydia Presley
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
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Lisa
Sep 28, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Petra
Apr 12, 2010 Petra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Deb
Apr 30, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Shirley Brown
Oct 28, 2013 Shirley Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Camille
Aug 03, 2014 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Valerie Petersen
Dec 11, 2009 Valerie Petersen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
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.
Leslie
Jan 02, 2010 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical fiction, so this book was a good selection for me. I probably would have rated it 3.5 to 4 stars, except there were certain traits of the main character's personality that I could not sympathize with or understand. If you like historical fiction, then I would recommend this book.
Charlotte
May 15, 2010 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Andrea
Jun 23, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)

Mary Beth
Jan 25, 2014 Mary Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given the length of this book, I was somewhat (and very pleasantly) surprised that this held my interest through all 600 pages. Nevertheless, I read this in two days, so there is obviously something compelling about this book.
Cheryl Moke
May 12, 2014 Cheryl Moke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting look at the life of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln from Mary's point of view. All though it is historical fiction, a lot of research was done and it comes alive. Women in that era, were definitely second-class citizens. Some things never change.
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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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“If I was mad, it was in this, that I had believed such a possession would protect me from the assassin.” 0 likes
“Why is it you sent me to the madhouse?' I said.

Reluctantly, he raised his head. 'You are out now. I don't see the point in asking this.'

'Is it because you loved me?' I persisted. 'Or because you do not?”
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