Two stories become one as an odd confluence of events places 14-year-old Bella Getchel, assistant seamstress to Mary Todd Lincoln, under the influence of Wilkes Booth, famous actor and “the most handsome man in America.”
Booth is confident of his ability to seduce women, and he uses Bella in his plot to kidnap the president and hold him in exchange for all Southern men held in Northern prisons. With notions of romance, saving her father, helping the South and performing on stage at Ford’s Theater all mixed up in her head, Bella agrees to spy on Mr. Lincoln, using her easy access to the White House in her role. Alternating first-person narratives effectively build tension as the two stories develop and intersect at the theater. Arabella Getchel is a fictitious character who provides an original spin on this important episode in history.
A fine companion to recent nonfiction works such as James Giblin’s Good Brother, Bad Brother (p. 539) and Harold Holzer’s The President is Shot! (2004). (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12+)