Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
What might have happened if Abraham Lincoln had survived Booth’s assassination attempt? Impeachment? That’s what novelist and historian Stephen L. Carter imagines in this riveting alternate history. Abigail Canner, a young black woman recently graduated from Oberlin College, is working for the law firm defending Lincoln from accusations that he overstepped his constitutional authority during the war. Interestingly, these charges are brought by grandstanding Radical Republican members of his own party who are displeased with how the reconstruction of the South is going. Abigail hopes to become a lawyer, but being black and female there are numerous obstacles in her way and even the law firm that hired her isn’t making full use of her careful, meticulous intelligence.
Many of the historical figures of the post-Civil War era have roles in this wide-ranging drama, both the well-known like Lincoln himself, Edwin Stanton, Charles Sumner and Salmon Chase, and the new to me but fascinating lawyers, war heroes and society doyennes that set me off on more than a few internet searches. Although Abigail is one of the fictional characters she feels like flesh and blood, and the mood and conditions of the age she lives in are portrayed with captivating skill. This is a time when Washington, DC is Washington City with dirt roads and only a few of today’s landmarks, and high-end Georgetown is George Town, a mostly black neighborhood of newly freed slaves. I couldn’t put this engrossing, suspenseful book down—it held my interest to the very last page.