Friday, October 11, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham

Book Synopsis
From the celebrated author Susan Higginbotham comes the incredible story of Lincoln’s First Lady

A Union’s First Lady
As the Civil War cracks the country in two, Mary Lincoln stands beside her husband praying for a swift Northern victory. But as the body count rises, Mary can’t help but fear each bloody gain. Because her beloved sister Emily is across party lines, fighting for the South, and Mary is at risk of losing both her country and her family in the tides of a brutal war.

A Confederate Rebel’s Wife
Emily Todd Helm has married the love of her life. But when her husband’s southern ties pull them into a war neither want to join, she must make a choice. Abandon the family she has built in the South or fight against the sister she has always loved best.

With a country’s legacy at stake, how will two sisters shape history?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters | IndieBound

My Review
The First Lady and the Rebel tells the story of two sisters during the years of the Civil War.  Mary Todd Lincoln was the wife of Abraham Lincoln.  Her sister Emily Todd Helm and her husband strongly backed the Confederacy.  The book begins as Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln and moves through time until the end of Lincoln's life, with a glimpse of Mary's life afterwards.

I wanted to read this book from first glimpse of the cover - it is beautiful!  Although I am from Georgia, I have not read a lot of Civil War fiction, so I was curious about this story because of the time period.

The story is told in alternating chapters by Mary and her sister Emily.  The author did a fine job delineating these characters and the differences in their lives and beliefs.

I particularly liked the early part of the book when Mary Todd first met Lincoln and they had a quirky, off and on courtship.  Their courtship told a lot about their personalities.  There were details like:

"... Mr. Lincoln appeared at the Edwards house every few days, taking the same place beside Mary.  Sometimes they would talk politics;  other times they would take a book from Ninian Edwards's well-stocked (if not exactly well-thumbed) library and have one read it to the other" (p. 12).

I found this book very interesting, and liked the insights of the two sisters on the Civil War -- they were good observers of their time.

The novel moves at a leisurely, rather slow, pace.  I think it would move a bit quicker if the book had been broken up into shorter chapters.

I enjoyed The First Lady and the Rebel and the unique glimpse it gave of America during the Civil War years.  I recommend it to anyone interested in that time period, and to fans of historical fiction.

Author Bio
Susan Higginbotham is the author of seven historical novels, including Hanging Mary, The Stolen Crown, and The Queen of Last Hopes. The Traitor’s Wife, her first novel, was the winner of ForeWord Magazine’s 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and was a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book wards. She writes her own historical fiction blog, History Refreshed. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in Maryland with her family.

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of The First Lady and the Rebel! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The First Lady and the Rebel


Passages to the Past said...

Thank you for hosting the blog tour!

HF Virtual Book Tours

Jorie said...

Hallo, Hallo,...

Following the tour route for this lovely novel,.. I didn't get to visit with everyone until now. I wanted to see if anyone talked about Emily and how she had a harder path to walk in deference to her sister Mary. One note we shared in common is the pacing and flow of the novel. I found it a bit muddling myself but also for a few other points which slowed down the reading of the novel for me.

I personally loved seeing both perspectives presented as it provides a better balanced view of History especially since even though a lot of us might think we understand the 'other' side of the war, none of us lived it. That is why I loved Emily's sections a bit more than Mary's; for Mary told the history we know but Emily highlighted the hidden history we do not often get to see and understand.

Lovely to visit with you!

You'll find my thoughts for this novel over on my blog.