Bestselling novelist Louis Bayard, author of the literary historical novel Courting Mr. Lincoln, has written about a fascinating story about the relationships between the future President and the two people who knew him best: his handsome and charming confidant (and roommate) Joshua Speed , the rich scion of the a wealthy hemp growing family in Louisville and sassy Lexington belle Mary Todd.
Bayard, who will be appearing at the Book Stall, book is reviewed by staffer Kara Gagliardi’s in the bookstore’s May newsletter:
“Louis Bayard’s new novel transports us by wagon to the soul of our country and lays bare the man who would become our 16th president. It is, in fact, the personal history behind our country’s history. The story starts small. In 1839, Mary Todd arrives in Springfield looking for a husband. Her mother is deceased, her father is remarried. She relies on the kindness (and lodging) of her older sister to launch her into society. She is an intellectual with a sharp wit, pleasing-albeit a little too round-an excellent dancer and dinner companion, a lover of politics. She is running out of time.
“Abe Lincoln, on the other hand, is the definition of rough. Tall and gangly, he doesn’t know how to open doors for women, approach a carriage, make small talk, or accept invitations. In other words, society overwhelms him. He knows heartache from the loss of his mother and stepmother, and compares the work his father inflicted upon him to slavery. He’s also a damn good lawyer with a gift for oratory.
“Central to the book is the character of Joshua Speed, who enables the courtship between Lincoln and Mary Todd and feels betrayed by it. Speed owns the dry goods store in town and rents a room to Lincoln above it. Good-looking and a bit of a womanizer, he takes it upon himself to teach Lincoln how to dress, behave, and move in polite circles. The two become inseparable. When he learns that Lincoln has met with Mary Todd in secret, he feels an emptiness that he cannot identify. Who is he without his best friend? Where does he belong if not by Lincoln’s side? This book portrays a match of dependency and tenderness, intellect and laughter. It will also make you remember when you left your peers for a person you set your future upon. The stakes are high. Love wins.”
Bayard, the author of Roosevelt’s Beast, Lucky Strikes, The Pale Blue Eye and The Black Tower, was described by the New York Times, as an author who “reinvigorates historical fiction,” rendering the past “as if he’d witnessed it firsthand.”
Follow him at louisbayard.com
What: Louis Bayard book signings
When & Where:
The Book Stall
811 Elm St, Winnetka, IL at 1 p.m
3251 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL at 7 p.m.