Booth is about more than resurrecting a villain from the history books, though it does shine a spotlight on John Wilkes Booth from birth to his infamous assassination of President Lincoln. This is a tale of the entire Booth family, who might be remembered for their theatrical celebrity — from father Junius Booth to his three thespian sons, Edwin, John, and June — but for the crime that brought shame to the clan forevermore. The story takes its time, meandering through births, deaths, and sibling conflicts, and focusing much of its attention on the sisters who had to live in their brothers’ shadow. In the background throughout is Abraham Lincoln, who was gradually making his way to the White House, while the issue of slavery increasingly divided the country. We know about the big battles, from Gettysburg to Antietam, but here we also see the smaller riots and uprisings that inflamed someone like Booth to take matters in his own hands.
Booth by Karen Joy Fowler, (List Price: $28.00, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593331439, March 2022)
Reviewed by Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama