THE WOMAN WHO LOVED JOHN WILKES BOOTH by Pamela Redford Russell

THE WOMAN WHO LOVED JOHN WILKES BOOTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Lincoln assassination--reworked as the story of some buried lives in Washington, D.C., told with the fitful luridness of ladies' fiction of that period. The ladies here are mostly repressed, leading submissive, inorgasmic sexual lives--especially Mary Surratt's unhappily married daughter Annie, who tells this story 13 years after the fact. Widow Mary Surratt, destined for the noose, runs a boarding house when into her life springs blazing, dark-eyed John Wilkes Booth (""I am concealing my impossible love for a woman""). Booth's black eyes mesmerize the widow, she dreams of the youth topping her, and he declares himself balmy for her. But the love story does not blossom; Mary merely becomes a laudanum addict (as does Annie later) and finally is arrested, tried, and hung with three other conspirators. In the novelistic present, we follow Annie on a trip as she comes to terms with her brother John (who first brought Booth to Mary's boarding house), visits her mother's jailer, buries her grandmother and the memory of a dead lover, then reconciles with her husband. For fanciers of dried flowers and old lace--a delicate, pathetic wrinkle.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1978
ISBN: 0595323448
Publisher: Putnam