3.5 starsThanks to Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review. Alternating in the narrative between sisters Mary Todd Lincoln and Emily Todd Helm, Susan Higginbotham takes readers back to American Civil War where politics separated families The conflict between North and South has been one of my favorites since I was a teenager I hope I am not the only Canadian who feels this way Tensions did run high and the fact that brother against brother or in this case sister against sister extended right up to the seats of political leaders and into the house of the president makes for a good story I felt that Emily Todd was much likeable in this story than her well known sister I felt that the way Higginbotham portrayed the relationships of Emily and her husband, Hardin appealing to the reader Their relationship and commitment to one another was endearing and I felt I had a good sense.of who they were as people The author admits to a great love of Lincoln and that is apparent throughout the novel But I could have done with a bit life breathed into them Their courtship in chapter one was quite dull Mary Todd Lincoln definitely appears in this story to be a staunch advocate of there being no shades of grey As many of her siblings become supporters of the Southern cause, the First Lady stands firmly beside her husband and sees their actions as foolishness and has an air of they reap what they sow But I couldn t help but get the impression that she was also not a generally warm person who failed to connect with the people Lincoln alone was her lighthouse and what he cared and thought was her main focus Overall, I was interested enough to follow these ladies right to the bittersweet end Goodreads review published 27 09 19Publication Date 01 10 19 This is a story of two sisters living during the Civil War Each happens to be on a different side one a Rebel and one in the Union The sisters are none other than the wife of Abraham Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln and her half sister Emily The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham is a dual perspective novel, told from Emily and Mary s points of view I loved learning about these women and this time period It was fun to read about their love stories and I especially enjoyed Mary s personality and seeing Abraham Lincoln through her eyes.This is not just another Civil War story It is a deeply personal tale of loss, love and family There are both good and bad people on either side of the War The issues surrounding the War aren t as cut and dry as we like to think The lives of these two sisters show that love and loss are universal If you love the Civil War Era or reading about real life characters, you will love this book Content I give this book a PG 13 rating Some examples of the content are mention of a woman s bosom mention of alcohol and drunkenness a character refers to the marital act the word Negro is used in context the word da is used mention of alcohol and men getting drunk the word b ch is used some gore related to descriptions of war some talk of making love, but not super descriptive a man talks of visits from spirits and mediums.Rating I give this book 4 stars.I want to thank Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Sourcebooks and Susan Higginbotham for the complimentary copy of this book for review I was not required to write a positive review The opinions I express in this review are my own This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission s CFR 16, Part 255. This is a story of two sisters Mary Todd Lincoln and Emily Todd Helm Both women chose to be loyal to their husbands Abraham Lincoln stood for the rights of humanity Benjamin Helm decided to be loyal to the South.1839 Mary Todd lives in Lexington, Kentucky She visits her sister Elizabeth in Springfield, Illinois, where she meets Abraham Lincoln She finds him fascinating from the first glance As a short person, she never cared for tall men, but he is certainly worth tipping the head up It was not handsome face by any means, but after years of enduring the good looking and vacuous young men of Lexington, Mary had concluded long ago that handsomeness was overrated This man had character in his face, character and intelligence She had never seen the like With her habit of saying what she thought and her unladylike interest in politics, resulted in her preferring men of the North rather than the South.Emily Todd not able to meet a man of her liking in Springfield, returns to Lexington In Frankfort, at the first ball of the season, she meets Benjamin Hardin Helm, a new legislator.February, 1861 The Lincolns are moving to the White House As President, Abraham quickly becomes a rare trait, listening to all sides of an issue.Emily s husband gets an offer of the paymaster s position by the President, but he declines Instead, he decides to be loyal to the South, not leaving his wife any choice.Set against the Civil War, weaving many battles fought, but with details not overwhelming the story bringing the effects of the war, not only the casualties, but also the unpreparedness to handle the large number of wounded soldiers and the tragedy of the families being split between the North and the South, resulting in reading about losses of their relatives from the newspaper instead of each other Narrated between two sisters, adding humor to tragedy, in the process creating a touching portrait of two sisters divided by the Civil War.Informative story, beautifully executed through action, with engaging dialogue moving the story forward Not a line of stagnation Superbly written FB BestHistoricalFiction Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, Sourcebooks and Susan Higginbotham for giving me the chances to read her new book The First Lady And The Rebel.I must admit at the very start of the book I was a little unsure if I would like it and if I would find it boring Not the case at all, I really enjoyed reading it and it s a brilliant book.It s a interesting story about two sisters, they married two very different men and when the American Civil War starts they support opposite sides Mary Todd is married to President Abraham Lincoln and Emily Todd is married confederate officer Benjamin Helm.Mary Lincoln is the Union s First Lady, she supports her husband Mr Lincoln, his job is a stressful one, it s extremely demanding, with very long hours, making tough decisions, it takes its toll on her husband and his health.Mary is hoping for a Northern victory, but she s very concerned for her family living in the south, members of her family are fighting in the confederate army and she now has very little contact with them.Emily is hoping for a Southern victory, her husband is a confederate officer, she and her children live like nomads They follow her husband around the south never staying in one place for very long and she lives with the constant fear of her husband being wounded, maimed or killed in battle.The war is a long brutal one, a shocking loss of life, terrible injuries, and thousands of men who will live with the physical and mental scars for the rest of their lives.The war rages on, both women have to deal with the challenges of motherhood, being separated from each other and accepting their husbands choices.The sisters may have been supporting different side in the war, but they both show incredible strength, they both suffer terrible personal loss, they both have to deal with grief, they had no time to properly grieve and have to be strong for the sake of their children.I really enjoyed The First Lady And The Rebel, it s a story about two strong and incredibly brave sisters They loved each other, their children, and husbands Separated by politics, war, illness, and both men made personal sacrifices for what they believe in I gave the book 4 stars and I look forward to read Hanging Mary I shared my review on Goodreads, Twitter, NetGalley, Edelweiss, Barnes Noble and my blog.https karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com Ever since first reading Gone With the Wind when I was eleven years old, I ve been fascinated by stories set against the backdrop of the Civil War but as a lover of historical fiction, I was drawn to The First Lady and the Rebel because I wanted to learn about Mary Todd Lincoln and Emily Todd Helm, two sisters torn apart by the tragedy of war Although I have read about Lincoln and Mary before, I only had a passing knowledge that her sister was a Confederate married to a Confederate General, but my first novel by Susan Higginbotham is a beautifully executed account of these sister s lives during this devastating period in America s history.Told through chapters alternatively narrated by Mary or Emily, the novel begins in 1839 when Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln on a visit to her sister Elizabeth in Springfield, Illinois and ends with the horror of Lincoln s assassination at Ford s Theatre, so it s a novel filled with a lot of information Emily, Mary s younger half sister, falls in love and in 1856 marries Benjamin Hardin Helm, a new legislator for Kentucky.When Lincoln is elected president in 1860, he offers Helms the position of paymaster, but Helms decides he must be loyal to the South and takes a position as a colonel in the Confederate Army With each sister s husband effectively on opposing sides of the war, they are now on opposite sides Will they be able to keep their family bonds together or will the devotion and love each has for their husbands come first The novel is historically fascinating and heartbreaking as it shows not only the division between Mary and Emily but of so many other families torn apart in a country divided by turmoil, loss, and tragedy It s so hard to believe just a little over 150 years ago that families were fighting against each other, but Higginbotham weaves an emotional and enlightening tale of grief, loss, and tragedy The research is extensive, and I enjoyed learning about Emily Helms since I knew very little Both she and Mary Lincoln had my sympathy throughout the novel and were excellently characterized.I would recommend this one to any historical fiction fan Thank you, Sourcebook Landmarks, Amy at HFVBT, and Susan Higginbotham for the gifted copy All opinions are my own. When I pick up a Susan Higginbotham book I know I m going to learn a lot and be entertained at the same time, which is exactly why I read historical fiction, and in The First Lady and the Rebel we get both in spades.Of course the first thing that drew me to reading this book is the abslutley gorgeous cover I mean, come on.it s an eye catcher Then I saw that it was a Higginbotham book AND that it was on Mary Todd and Lincoln, two figures in history that I haven t read about yet I was fascinated with them both, but especially Lincoln The story is told in alternating voices between Mary Todd and her sister, Emily It was great to learn about the Todd family as well There were so many of them We begin when Mary meets Lincoln and through their courtship and marriage, to when he becomes elected as President, and into the Civil War and beyond In a time when families are torn apart by the war, their bonds as sisters are tested when they find themselves on opposite sides It was very sad to see and to be honest, it seems like the divide is happening again in our country and it s heartbreaking to witness first hand I highly recommend The First Lady and the Rebel The writing is superb, the research excellent, and I genuinely enjoyed my time reading it I can t wait to see who Higginbotham writes about next I received this book as an ARC from Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.I am familiar with the story of how Abe and Mary met and fell in love with each other that started the relationship of one of America s most famous presidential couples The presentation that Susan Higginbotham laid out throughout the book was descriptive enough to be right there in the story with the conflict the reader will feel for Mary during the war especially when her family is involved with the other side She has a choice between her family and the man she loves Such a compelling story that will leave you speechless and breathless.We will consider adding this book to our Historical Fiction collection at the library That is why we give this book 5 stars. The Story Of Mary Todd Lincoln And Emily Todd Helm, Two Sisters On Separate Sides Of History, Fighting For The Country They Believe In Against The People They Love Most When The Civil War Cracks The Country In Two, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln Watches From The White House As The Blows Of A Divided Nation Shake Her People And Her Husband, President Lincoln, To Their Very Core As The News Of Wartime Enter The Oval Office, Mary Waits With Bated Breath, Both For The Hopes Of A Northern Victory As Well As In Distress Of A Bloody Southern DefeatMary, Like Many People During This Time, Have A Family That Is Torn Between North And South Her Beloved Sister Emily Is Across Party Lines, Fighting For The Confederates, And Mary Is At Risk Of Losing Both The Country She Loves And The Family She Has Had To Abandon In The Tides Of This Brutal War Mary Todd leaves home to spend time with her married sister Elizabeth in Illinois There it is hoped she will find a husband She goes to a number of parties and balls but it s only one man who appeals to her Abraham Lincoln A lot of other men are put off by her interest in politics and the news of the day But Mr Lincoln finds her fascinating Their relationship goes through some bumps as does his political career but ultimately they get married and as we all know he gets elected president.Mary s sister Emily also comes to Illinois but does not find a husband so she looks elsewhere and finds the love of her life in Hardin Helm, a lawyer and politician from Kentucky The two sisters are close but when the war breaks out they find themselves on opposite sides as Emily s husband refuses a post from President Lincoln as he feels he must stay loyal to Kentucky.What follows is the compelling, heartbreaking tale of sisters separated by War, finding themselves on opposite sides due to their loyalty to their husbands The Civil War tore so many families apart in this way The First Lady and the Rebel shares how the divide impacted even the family of the man trying to hold the union together.Ms Higginbotham builds this story at a nice pace with lots of historical detail about these very human people, some of whom have attained an almost mythical allure Most of us know the stories about Abraham Lincoln and some about Mary Todd Lincoln I knew nothing about her sister or about this break in the family due to the Civil War.The book is told in not quite alternating chapters from either Emily s or Mary s point of view It starts before the war, carries the reader through the horror and suffering of those living through it and those trying to manage it and breaks the readers hearts with the deaths of both men one in battle and one through assassination I don t think I m spoiling anything here as history is history It continues the sisters lives post War as widows both fighting for relevance in different ways.I will admit it took me a little time to engage with this book but once I did, I was hooked and couldn t stop reading It s a compelling and ultimately sad story of finding love and losing it.4.5 This duel perspective novel is my first read by Susan Higginbotham Mary Todd Lincoln and Emily Todd Helm are sisters Both are married to important men Mary becomes the wife of Abraham Lincoln, and Emily becomes the wife of General Benjamin Helm, a southern general.I found this an intriguing look at the Civil War from a woman s perspective The author begins the book by tracing both sister s courtships and marriages The courtship of Abraham Lincoln and Mary was quite interesting as they did discussing of politics and books then they spent get to know one another I got tickled at Mary saying to herself she would prefer a little hand holding and kissing than discussion But once married, Abraham was always supportive of his Molly Both Mary and Emily were married to men who were away from them a great deal of the time Abe because of his political life and then become president and Ben due to his military assignments Mary and Emily both felt conflicted throughout the war Mary was supportive of the union, but had family in Kentucky and wanted them safe including Emily She also had brothers and stepbrothers serving in the Confederate forces Emily was a staunch supporter of the confederacy but was close to Mary as well as Abe Abe even nicknamed her Little Sister Higginbotham shows the deep angst that developed in families as they were torn asunder by opposing viewpoints As both sisters lost their husbands, one to assassination and the other to war casualty their later lives weren t what they hoped them to be Well written and very informative, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Civil War from a woman s viewpoint The historical research was evident throughout this book The closing information on the later lives of both Mary and Emily was very interesting I received a complimentary copy of this book from Sourcebooks Landmark through NetGalley Opinions are mine alone I was not compensated for this review.
Welcome I write historical fiction and nonfiction set in medieval and Tudor England and, most recently, nineteenth century America My latest novel, The First Lady and the Rebel, will be published in October 2019 It tells the story of Mary Lincoln and her Confederate half sister, Emily Todd Helm.As a writer of biographical fiction, one of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, a
- 387 pages
- The First Lady and the Rebel
- Susan Higginbotham
- 15 January 2017 Susan Higginbotham