In a 2017 C-SPAN poll, President Lincoln was found to be the best President by 91 historians and authors. But how was his personal life? In Courting Mr. Lincoln, his future wife, Mary Todd, and his best friend, Joshua Speed, tell his story during the last twenty-five years of his life.
Poor country lawyer Abraham Lincoln is taken under the wing of handsome Joshua Speed when he first arrives in the equally roughhewn state capital of Illinois, Springfield. Mary Todd is first dazzled by the glamorous Mr. Speed. But her interest in politics soon aligns her closer to Mr. Lincoln. For Lincoln is a mesmerizing speaker who recently won a county office.
Before reading this meticulously researched book, I had pigeon-holed Mary Todd Lincoln as President Lincoln’s “crazy” wife. But she is so much more. Despite living at a time before women were not even allowed to vote, she was fascinated with politics. From sitting on her father’s lap as a child, Mary could talk about politics as well as any man. It must have been frustrating for this intelligent lady to not be included in the male-only political world. She was a dynamic woman pigeonholed by her time.
It is difficult not to compare the formal culture of the mid-1800s with today’s anything goes lifestyle. While the restrictions on women were much worse, the debates and discussions on real issues are a refreshing change from the party-aligned divisions so common in politics today.
But at its heart, Courting Mr. Lincoln is a love story. Both between Lincoln and Mary, and, Lincoln and Joshua Speed. Lincoln and Speed were complete opposites in looks and demeanor. However, they came together and shared their talents and abilities with each other freely.
Whether you come for the politics, the romance between Mary and Lincoln, or the very real bromance of Lincoln and Joshua, you will not be disappointed. 4 stars!
Thanks to Algonquin Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.