A very well-told tale of the circus that ensued after the killing of Lincoln, the incompetence and hasty actions of the government, and two women in the middle of it all.
I knew little about Mrs. Surratt but after reading this novel feel as though I knew her intimately--her hopes, dreams, love for her children, fears, faith. This woman's tale is told through two different narratives: her own and that of one of her lady boarders. Readers will come to their own conclusions as to Mary's involvement in what was an appalling crime.
Mary is guilty of a mother's love more than anything. Wrong place, wrong time. During the Civil War her son begins bringing home questionable characters. She runs a boarding house. What is she to do? Turn them all away? But while turning the other cheek may be one thing, aiding is another, and she ends up doing just that without realizing what exactly she's aiding. There's an innocence mixed in with her guilt, conflicting readers' opinions. One minute she guilty, the next she's not.
Her boarder Nora shows us the goings-on in the house through impartial eyes. We meet a young motherless lady who fears she'll be a spinster. We fall in love with a wounded Union soldier alongside her and get excited about her getting her photo done for her. We smile when she sits with John Wilkes Booth and does little acting skits with him. We see that there was more to him than a monster with rage in his heart.
The world at this time comes alive--the celebrations, the mourning, the captitol, the politics. And oh, what incompetence the investigation yields!! How glad I am that laws have changed since then. People are arrested for merely being related to Mr. Booth, for having known him, for having gone to a show with him at some point. People are arrested with no warning, no "phone call" aka letter for that period.
And yet Mrs. Surratt faces her demise with such dignity.
Was she guilty? Somewhat, to a point, of a mother's love more than anything. Did she deserve to die? One must read this and decide for themselves.