THE GOVERNOR AND HIS LADY by Earl Conrad

THE GOVERNOR AND HIS LADY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Conrad was brought up in Auburn, New York, and the native son pride in Seward is a strong element there, even today, when his one-time home is a national monument. Seward for the Defense (Rinehart-1957) was an extraordinarily interesting study of Seward's contribution to jurisprudence and the techniques of a defense lawyer, and brought out his goals of justice for the underprivileged, his concern for the Negro, and this long before the abolition movement fired passions. Now comes an overall fictionalized biography of William Henry Seward and his wife, Frances. Personally, I felt the facts, based as they unquestionably are on the voluminous correspondence, intimately detailed, in which the ever-ailing, and frequently complaining Frances indulged, needed little of the surplus embroidering supplied by the novelist. Conrad is at his best in straight biography- and Seward's story, ideally tailored to fit the pattern of the American dream, from his debt-ridden adolescence to his power-behind-the White House role in Lincoln's time, needs no embellishment. It is straight drama, with a colorful, magnetic hero, a tremendous drive of ambition and idealism, a shifting background of the American frontier of the early 19th century, and the climax in the conflict that split the country. Seward is skilfully drawn and comes out life-size. The scope of his career embraces many facets of America's coming of age- not only his professional life as a lawyer and politician, but the scene which provided successive challenges to his ebullient personality. Frances does not come out too sympathetically. The ""vapors"" in which she indulged disenchant the reader as they disenchanted her husband. But the national issues- and Seward's part in shaping history- make this a biographical novel of more than ordinary interest.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1959
Publisher: Putnam