Courting Mr. Lincoln

A Novel

By Louis Bayard

A May Indie Next Pick
An Apple Books Best of the Month for April
“A miracle; an exquisite story exquisitely told. If you love Jane Austen, or Hamilton, or fiction--of any era—that transports and transforms in equal measure, look no further. Courting Mr. Lincoln is as good as storytelling gets.” --A. J. Finn, bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
 
When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one’s short list to be president. A country lawyer living above a dry goods shop, he is lacking both money and manners, and his gift for oratory surprises those who meet him. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with an interest in debates and elections, at first finds him an enigma. “I can only hope,” she tells his roommate, the handsome, charming Joshua Speed, “that his waters being so very still, they also run deep.”

It’s not long, though, before she sees the Lincoln that Speed knows: an amiable, profound man who, despite his awkwardness, has a gentle wit to match his genius, and who respects her keen political mind. But as her relationship with Lincoln deepens, she must confront his inseparable friendship with Speed, who has taught his roommate how to dance, dress, and navigate the polite society of Springfield.

Told in the alternating voices of Mary Todd and Joshua Speed, and inspired by historical events, Courting Mr. Lincoln creates a sympathetic and complex portrait of Mary unlike any that has come before; a moving portrayal of the deep and very real connection between the two men; and most of all, an evocation of the unformed man who would grow into one of the nation’s most beloved presidents. Louis Bayard, a master storyteller, delivers here a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities.

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Louis Bayard

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Review quotes
An Amazon Best of the Month for April

“Bayard's masterful command of language enchants and thrills; his meticulous, almost otherworldly, understanding of his historical subject awes and inspires . . . Courting Mr. Lincoln is Bayard at his absolute best. He offers more reasons to love one of the most admired presidents in U.S. history and proves yet again why he himself is one of the nation's greatest literary gems.”
Shelf Awareness

“Thoroughly researched and thrillingly plotted . . . Filled with rich historical detail and compulsively readable, Courting Mr. Lincoln is a story of a best friend, a future wife, and the political legend that they came together to create, each leaving an indelible mark on the man that would one day become president. Fans of historical fiction will be up late into the night to uncover the next chapter of this fascinating time in history.”
New York Journal of Books

“Bayard does an exceptional job of keeping readers engrossed as he weaves fact and fiction in this intriguing tale of intimacy between Lincoln and his two closest confidantes.”
BookPage

“A miracle; an exquisite story exquisitely told. This glorious novel, big-hearted and clear-eyed, features the most uncanny incarnation of our sixteenth president since Daniel Day-Lewis strode onscreen in Lincoln. If you love Jane Austen, or Hamilton, or fiction—of any era—that transports and transforms in equal measure, look no further. 'Whatever you are, be a good one,' Lincoln urged. Courting Mr. Lincoln is a good one—as good as storytelling gets.”
A.J. Finn, bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

“Delightful . . . Readers will delight in Joshua and Mary, who provide unique reflections on a man who is deeply troubled about the path his country is on . . .This charming love story delicately reveals the emotional roller coaster of two inexperienced adults traversing the unknown realm of love while trying to meet the demands and expectations of society.”
Publishers Weekly

“[An] acute and passionate portrait . . . in Bayard's skilled hands, three complicated people groping toward a new phase in their lives is all the plot you need.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"
With a richly imagined setting and complex characters . . . this [is] a worthy addition to the fiction-about-Lincoln bookshelf.”
Booklist

“In this sparkling tale of strategy and desire, Louis Bayard renders the origin story of the Lincoln-Todd marriage with a wit worthy of Jane Austen and the keen political insight of the best presidential biographers. When it comes to bringing our most revered historical figures to vivid life—and returning to them their full humanity—Louis Bayard has no peer. He is, quite simply, a master of the storytelling art.”
Liza Mundy, bestselling author of Code Girls

Courting Mr. Lincoln gives us a young Abe Lincoln as we've never imagined him. It’s a moving portrait, told with cutting wit and intimately drawn detail, of three friends struggling to find their own identities against the weight of social expectations.”
Thomas Mullen, author of Darktown and Lightning Men

“In exquisite detail and luminous prose, Louis Bayard has taken what might have been a footnote in the history of Abraham Lincoln and made it the story. It is as if there was a secret door in Lincoln's life and Bayard has opened it and walked inside. Suddenly all the pieces fit. Utterly fascinating and brilliantly convincing, this is a terrific book that people will be talking about for a long time.”
—Mary Morris, author of Gateway to the Moon

“Superb, witty, gorgeously written. For the length of this dazzling, subversive novel, I was plunged so deeply into the sitting rooms and muddy streets of mid-nineteenth-century Springfield, Illinois, that I too had fallen in love with and had my heart broken by the awkward, young lawyer from Kentucky. Courting Mr. Lincoln is an essential read: it makes the past a human place.”
Christopher Bollen, author of The Destroyers
Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
352
Publication date
April 23, 2019
ISBN
9781616208479