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Hanging Mary: A Novel by Susan Higginbotham
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Hanging Mary: A Novel

by Susan Higginbotham

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If you aren’t an Abraham Lincoln history buff, the name Mary Surratt won’t mean anything. Mary was the boarding house owner where John Wilkes Booth met with his fellow conspirators. She is also the first woman executed by the U. S. government.
A lot is known about Mary, biographical information mainly. But the truth of her role, or non-role, in Lincoln’s assassination is mystery to this day. In this first historical fiction work, which I know of, author Susan Higginbotham weaves an interesting story about Mary, John Wilkes Booth, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, and the others who played major roles in killing Lincoln. One of the questions that has haunted historians is what role did John Surratt, Mary’s son, play in the assassination and why did he never return to defend his mother after she was arrested?
Billed as the “The Untold Story of Lincoln’s Assassination,” Higginbotham tells the story from two viewpoints. First is Mary, then one of her boarders, Miss Nora Fitzpartick. Of course, Nora’s appearance, which I knew nothing of, sent me scouring Google to determine if she was a real character, or a plot device. She is real, although not much is known about her.
The story begins in August 1864 and ends on July 7, 1865, immediately after the hangings. There is an Epilogue for Nora that in June 1869.
I liked the back and forth of the narrative between Mary and Nora. It provides a realistic look at the time and at the players, especially the charming Mr. Booth. I didn’t get swept up in the story like I had hoped. That’s why I give Hanging Mary 4 out of 5 stars. ( )
  juliecracchiolo | Jan 26, 2018 |
In this work of historical fiction, author Susan Higginbotham has given us a fresh look at a woman who was caught up in the fringe of a conspiracy that ultimately led to her downfall. Always protecting her children, and especially fearful for son’s activities, Mary Surratt agrees to help him in his quest to support the Confederacy. All the inhabitants of her boarding house, including her daughter Anna, are enamored with the handsome Mr. Booth and thrilled when he comes to visit. But this admiration comes to an abrupt end when President Lincoln is assassinated and Booth is on the run. Soon, anyone associated with him is rounded up and arrested. Mary is no exception, and it is only a matter of time before her involvement becomes known. Just how much she knew and what illegal acts she committed may never be known for sure, but in this fascinating account of a captivating time of American history, we see that she may not have been treated justly. This audio version was by expertly performed by Johanna Parker which added greatly to its enjoyment. ( )
  Maydacat | Mar 26, 2017 |
Knowing only the barest bones of Mary Surratt's story - mostly that she was executed in connection with Lincoln's assassination - this novel was a great way to learn more. Told in the alternating voices of Mary and of her young boarder Nora, this novel traces the conspiracy to kill Lincoln as it developed in 19th-century Washington and in the last days of the American Civil War. It is limiting to only see the story from the female point of view (what would it be like if John Wilkes Booth was a narrator?), but it does allow for the details of daily life to emerge and makes for an even more shocking (if expected, considering the title) end. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Aug 30, 2016 |
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"A widow who runs a small boardinghouse on H Street, Mary Surratt isn't half as committed to the cause [of the Civil War] as her son, Johnny. If he's not delivering messages or escorting veiled spies, he's [inviting] 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?"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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