The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham

The First Lady and the Rebel, will be published in October 2019. It tells the story of Mary Lincoln and her Confederate half-sister, Emily Todd Helm.”

“As a writer of biographical fiction, one of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures over the centuries. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, diplomatic dispatches, household inventories, land grants, royal records, and so forth—and modern historical research to achieve my primary goal, which is bringing my characters to life. “

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Who has been the most worthy occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Susan Higginbotham believes it’s Abraham Lincoln. This is a deeply personal accounting of the Civil War told from the point of view of Mary Todd Lincoln and her half sister, Emily Todd Helm. The intimate memories of Mary and Abe’s first encounters and subsequent engagement in contrast to Emily and the love of her life, Hardin Helm, will keep the reader traveling in time and place between the North and South, as the nation marches toward a Civil War. The novel opens with five foot two Mary meeting the “off putting” tall Mr. Lincoln; a cousin letting him know that Mary “will talk politics like a man if you allow her!” This close look into Mary’s personal views on slavery, how she manages grieving for a child while on national display, maintaining her family life in spite of news of the battles -is all quite a feat and so revealing through the author’s excellent research! Mary visits hospitals to honor the wounded and endures the horror of the assassination-quite a journey for the reader. The love of Emily for Hardin Helm and his refusal of a position in the Northern army offered by Lincoln leads to the sisters fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War. A novel of relationships and how families endure and maintain through the hard and brutal years of war. “With a country’s legacy at stake, how will two sisters shape history?”

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