Title: Hanging Mary
Author: Susan Higginbotham
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: March 6, 2016
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "In 1864 Washington, one
has to be careful with talk of secession. Better to speak only when in
the company of the trustworthy, like Mrs. Surratt. A widow who runs a
small boarding house, Mary Surratt isn't half as committed to the cause
as her son, Johnny. If he's not escorting veiled spies, he's inviting
home men like John Wilkes Booth, the actor who is even more charming in
person than he is on the stage. But when President Lincoln is killed,
the question of what Mary knew becomes more important than anything
Based on the true history of Mary Surratt, Hanging Mary
reveals the untold story of those on the other side of the assassin's
My Two Cents:
"Hanging Mary" is the story of Mary Surratt, who is best known for being one of the Lincoln assassination conspirators and the first woman to be executed by the U.S. federal government. Her name has been inextricably tied to John Wilkes Booth in the plot that took the 16th president down. This book looks at whether her sullied name is warranted or could there be more to the story.
One of the reasons I love learning about history so much is that history is almost never clear cut and just when you think it is clear cut, there is always another perspective to ponder over and always a new way to see things. This book is one of those new perspectives. Lincoln is one of my favorite presidents to read about and I always wonder what would have happened had he lived. I can't get enough of reading about him. This is what initially drew me to this book. What kept me reading is the different perspective of Surratt. Throughout the book, she seems most concerned with making ends meet for her family and while she had Southern sympathies, she still seemed more concerned with running a reputable business and seeing her children stay out of trouble.
I also thought that the perspective on John Wilkes Booth was interesting. As someone looking back to the past, his name is synonymous with Lincoln's killing. In the book, the author gets at just how famous he is. He was like a A-list movie star of the present day. Everyone knew who he was. He made women swoon (some of the characters in the book trade trading cards with his face on them). Men wanted to be him. He wasn't some obscure figure, which makes his plot even more interesting to me.
The writing of the book is good. While it took me a bit to get into the story, once the action gets going, the book becomes interesting quickly. This is the perfect historical fiction for those that understand that history is still very much narrative and are looking for a new take on something so familiar to so many of us.