Fates and Traitors

Dutton. Sept. 2016. 400p. ISBN 9780525954309. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698404137. F
OrangeReviewStarChiaverini vividly brings John Wilkes Booth—one of the most hated names in U.S. history—to life in her new novel. Loosely organized by long chapters centered on the women who had the most influence on Abraham Lincoln's assassin—his mother, sister, "secret" fiancée, and the Confederate war widow who was caught up, perhaps unfairly, in his plot to kill the president—the story chronicles Booth's background and personal demons. Wonderfully evoking the times and places that Booth knew, Chiaverini's work makes for enthralling reading. One thing that is less than clear, perhaps because even historians find it so, is how Booth conceived so deep a hatred for Lincoln and so fierce a belief in the rightness of slavery and the customs and lifestyle of the South. Although this is a stand-alone, it makes fascinating reading in conjunction with the author's other books set during this time period (Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker; Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule; The Spymistress).
VERDICT Readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially dealing with the Civil War, as well as fans of the author, will find this winning novel difficult to put down. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/16.]

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