Skip to main content

Hanging Mary by Susan Higginbotham: A Book Review

Hanging Mary
Author: Susan Higginbotham
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Pages: 402
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: The untold story of Lincoln's Assassination

     1864, Washington City. One has to be careful with talk of secession, of Confederate whispers falling on Northern ears. Better to speak only when in the company of the trustworthy. Like Mrs. Surratt.

     A widow who runs a small boardinghouse on H Street, Mary Surratt isn't half as committed to the cause as her son, Johnny. If he's not delivering messages or escorting veiled spies, he's invited home men like John Wilkes Booth, the actor who is even more charming in person than he is on the stage.

     But when President Lincoln is killed, the question of what Mary knew becomes more important than anything else. Was she a cold-blooded accomplice? Just how far would she go to help her son?

     Based on the true case of Mary Surratt, Hanging Mary reveals the untold story of those on the other side of the assassin's gun.

     My Review: Mary Surratt was a woman who was involved in the conspiracy of Lincoln’s assassination and was the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government. She was also the person who had the chance to save Abraham Lincoln. Even though she knew about the conspiracy, she did not alert the authorities. However, despite her notoriety, there are very few details as to her motives. In this historical novel, Mary Surratt is allowed to tell her own story, and to the motives of why she held her tongue as Booth made his decision to assassinate President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre.

     The story is told from the viewpoints of both Mary Surratt and her boarder, Nora. I did not really like these two protagonists. I found them both unsympathetic. They each seemed very emotionally-detached, and Mary up until she was hanged seemed passive. There was not really much information as to Mary’s motives for it was hardly discussed. Throughout the novel, Mary never fully realized the depth of the crime she had committed, nor was she repentant. She never felt the guilt that she had help murder President Lincoln, nor was she sorry about the victim. All she thought about was herself. She was also a bad parent, for if she was a good parent, she would have held her son, who was part of the conspiracy, to be held for accountable of his actions. Therefore, this woman was not a likable character and never fully realized the consequences of her actions.

     Overall, this book is supposed to be an in-depth psyche of a complex woman, yet I found this woman to be very distant to the reader. She still seemed to keep her secrets, for instance, the motive of why she decided to aid John Wilkes Booth. I really did not like any of the characters in this book, and they never seemed very well-rounded. This book was very slow, boring, and tedious. In the first half, hardly anything happens. They just discuss the tedious everyday details of their life. The only interesting parts were the trial and the execution, but it happens near the the end of the book. I recommend this book if you love reading about Lincoln’s assassinations and political conspiracies. However, I suggest that you skip this for there are better books about Lincoln’s assassination out there. You will not be missing anything in this novel because nothing happens that is not already stated in history books.


Rating 2½ out  of 5 stars

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

Before the Alamo by Florence Byham Weinberg: A Book Review

  Before the Alamo Author: Florence Byham Weinberg Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Maywood House Release Date: 2021 Pages: 299 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Emilia Altamirano, Tejana, half Native American, half Spanish, is the daughter of a Royalist officer who fought against Mexico's independence in the Battle of the Medina River. Growing up in Bexar de San Antonio, she becomes literate, is adopted as a ward of José Antonio Navarro, and acts as a page in the Ayuntamiento (City Council). She serves as a nurse in the Battle of the Alamo but survives to face an uncertain future.            My Review: Before the Alamo chronicles the events prior to the Battle of the Alamo from a tejana’s perspective, a Texan woman of Spanish descent. Emilia is the daughter of a wealthy Spaniard and a Native American slave. She becomes a ward to Jose Antonio Navarro, a Texas war hero. Jose teaches Emilia to read and write. Under his tutelage, she becomes

The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak: A Book Review

  The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World Author: Shelley Puhak Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography Publisher: Bloomsbury Release Date: February 22, 2022 Pages: 378 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: The remarkable, little-known story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be vilified for daring to rule.      Brunhild was a foreign princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet-in sixth-century Merovingian France, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport-these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms, changing the face of Europe.      The two queens commanded armies and negotiated with kings and popes. They formed coalitions and broke them, mothered children and lost them. They fought a decades-long civil war-against each ot