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Courting Mr. Lincoln
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A page-turning novel about the brilliant, melancholic future president and the two people who knew him best: his handsome and charming confidant (and roommate), Joshua Speed, and the spirited young debutante Mary Todd.

A Washington Post Bestseller
A May Indie Next Pick
An Apple Books Best of the Month for April
A People Magazine Best Book of the Week

"Exquisite." -- People
"A triumph of a novel."
"Rich, fascinating, and romantic." -- Newsday

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.
Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
Mary Todd, a vivacious Kentucky girl with a rebellious streak, arrives in in "ugly, raw" Springfield, Illinois, so that her sister can marry her off to one of the town's many bachelors. Mary is first drawn to handsome storekeeper Joshua Speed but soon finds she has more rapport with Speed's roommate, Abraham Lincoln. A shared passion for politics helps her overlook his frayed cuffs and lack of polish. It is Joshua who introduces them, having been enlisted by the town's social arbiter to aid Lincoln's rise by finding him a suitable wife. The more Lincoln pulls away from him and into Mary's orbit, however, the more discomfited Joshua becomes, even to the point of trying to sabotage the relationship. Bayard (Lucky Strikes, 2016) runs his narrative on parallel lines, one seen through Mary's eyes and one through Joshua's. Inserting Joshua, a real-life friend from Lincoln's Springfield days, adds dimension to a familiar story and, along with a richly imagined setting and complex characters, makes this a worthy addition to the fiction-about-Lincoln bookshelf.--Mary Ellen Quinn Copyright 2019 Booklist
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