Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fates and Traitors” as Want to Read:
Fates and Traitors
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fates and Traitors

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,750 Ratings  ·  390 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Dutton
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fates and Traitors, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Faith V. Logsdon Historically speaking he escaped to Europe for a while, then to Egypt I believe before he was finally arrested. And extradited back to the US. But by…moreHistorically speaking he escaped to Europe for a while, then to Egypt I believe before he was finally arrested. And extradited back to the US. But by then the statute of limitations had run out and he was never tried.(less)
Asteropê USA - September 13, 2016
Other countries, I'm not sure.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Chelsea Humphrey
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-publisher
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!
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
Jul 29, 2016 marked it as books-i-gave-up-on
Shelves: first-to-read, 2016
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.
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

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
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
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 ...more
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
Erika Robuck
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Just couldn't get into this book. So much detail and background on everybody!!

No rating
Abandoned at 20%
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Jody McGrath
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
* 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
nikkia neil
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
'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.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway-wins
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 ...more
Sarah Swann
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2016 added it
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.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
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
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"...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
Kris - My Novelesque Life
(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
Sarah Koehler
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
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, ...more
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 ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
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.
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Other Einstein
  • Monticello: A Daughter and Her Father
  • The Last Days of Night
  • Into the Savage Country
  • Mischling
  • Mr. Emerson's Wife
  • Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South
  • A Gentleman in Moscow
  • Pushing Perfect
  • Summit
  • Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity
  • The Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne
  • A Free State
  • Terrible Virtue
  • The Houseguest
  • Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries
  • Seven Locks
  • We Are Unprepared
Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. About her historical fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Se ...more
More about Jennifer Chiaverini

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • An Empty Cup
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Underground River
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Word Game
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fraulein M.
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sister of Mine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bury What We Cannot Take
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Searching for Grace Kelly
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Bricking It
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Thunder and Rain
    $9.99 $2.99
  • All Grown Up
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ecstasy
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Virtues of Oxygen
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Home to Harmony (Harmony #1)
    $11.14 $1.99
  • Dog Crazy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Towers of Tuscany
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Who We Were Before
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Reluctant Midwife (Hope River, #2)
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Sin No More (Reverend Curtis Black)
    $10.39 $1.99
  • The List
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Lost & Found
    $5.74 $1.99
  • A Watershed Year
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Savage
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Designer
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Novice: A Story of True Love
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Go Away Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Leaving of Things
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Weight of Ink
    $10.99 $2.99
  • We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Hidden Flower
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Take Two (Above the Line, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lisette's List
    $11.99 $1.99
  • This Burns My Heart
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Journeys of Socrates
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.20
  • Oceans Apart
    $7.99 $1.99
  • An Absent Mind
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Book of Ruth
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Where We Belong
    $5.99 $1.49
  • Cashelmara
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Covenant
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Digging In
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
    $11.99 $12.99
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Going Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • In Between Days
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Girl in the Glass
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stiltsville: A Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • To the Bright Edge of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Patriots
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Flicker of Old Dreams
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All the Good Parts
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Food of Love
    $3.99 $1.99
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow
    $11.99 $2.99
  • A Scattered Life
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Desert God (Ancient Egypt, #5)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • An Amish Buggy Ride
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Elizabeth Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $4.99 $1.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Sinful Calling (Reverend Curtis Black #13)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • On a Cold Dark Sea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • My Lady Viper (Tales from the Tudor Court #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Edward Adrift
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $1.99