Acclaimed author Louis Bayard has crafted a brilliant and provocative page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities. Courting Mr. Lincoln is the surprising story of a young Abraham Lincoln and the two people who loved him best: a sparky, marriageable Mary Todd and Lincoln’s best friend, Joshua Speed. “If you love Jane Austen, or Hamilton, or fiction—of any era—that transports and transforms in equal measure, look no further,” suggests A. J. Finn, bestselling author of The Woman in the Window. This special ticketed early evening reception held at Gramercy’s neighborhood ritrovo is the first of its “Prosecco and Prose” series.
When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one's shortlist to be president. Rough and reticent, he’s a country lawyer lacking money and manners, living above a dry goods shop, but with a gift for oratory. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with a tireless interest in debates and elections, at first finds him an enigma. “I can only hope,” she tells his roommate, the handsome, charming Joshua Speed, “that his waters being so very still, they also run deep.” It’s not long, though, before she sees the Lincoln that Speed knows: a man who, despite his awkwardness, is amiable and profound, with a gentle wit to match his genius and a respect for her keen political mind. But as her relationship with Lincoln deepens, she must confront his inseparable friendship with Speed, who has taught his roommate how to dance, dress, and navigate the polite society of Springfield. Told in the alternating voices of Mary Todd and Joshua Speed, and rich with historical detail, Courting Mr. Lincoln creates a sympathetic and complex portrait of Mary unlike any that has come before; a moving portrayal of the deep and very real connection between the two men; and most of all, an evocation of the unformed man who would grow into one of the nation’s most beloved presidents.
Louis Bayard is a New York Times Notable Book author and has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy. His most recent novel was the critically acclaimed young-adult title Lucky Strikes. He lives in Washington, DC, and teaches at George Washington University.
Tickets, available through Eventbrite, will be $50 and include an author talk and meet ‘n greet, a glass of Prosecco and hors d’oeuvres, plus a copy of Bayard’s novel which he will sign at the event.