Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Book Review - Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters

This novel is set t be published June 2, 2020.

Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters: A NovelMrs. Lincoln's Sisters: A Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley for my honest review.*

Mary Todd Lincoln attempted suicide 10 years after the assassination of President Lincoln. The events leading up to the attempt lead Robert Lincoln, her son, to have her declared legally insane and commit her to a hospital for rest. In the years after Lincoln's assassination, Mary had become estranged from each of her sisters for various reasons. Once she was committed to the hospital, she began having people reach out to a sister to be saved from the harsh treatment she felt she was receiving.

This historical fiction novel follows 2 different timelines: 1875 after the trial to have Mary declared insane and the years leading from childhood through the assassination of President Lincoln. Each chapter is through the eyes of a different sister - Elizabeth, the eldest sibling; Frances, the next eldest sister; Ann, the sister following Mary; and Emilie, a younger half sister. Each sister has a different relationship with Mary based on their younger years which is explained in the second timelines in the book.

I enjoyed this novel and learning more about the Todd family. I hadn't realized how many siblings Mary had and didn't know about the suicide of declaration of insanity. It was also interesting to see how many influential people the Todd sisters were related to or had in their close circles. It was also a bit of a shock to see how vindictive Mary was and the threats that she made against her son after she moved into Elizabeth's home from the hospital.

It has been a while since I have read a Chiaverini novel. I really enjoyed the Elm Creek series and a few of the novels she wrote (for example the one about the underground railroad), but I stopped reading them after some of the books that were set during the Civil War because I found it hard to make it through the descriptions of what was going on in the war. The writing was very dry and almost just a regurgitation of facts. I'm happy to say that in this novel, the chapters about the war were set against how the war affected sisters directly and it was much easier to read.

Overall, Chiaverini does an excellent job of bringing the story to life. And letting the sisters live on through her words.

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