After assassinating President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth escaped but only got as far as a barn in Virginia. His death affected the four women he was closest to probably more than his life.
The early part of the story is told by his mother Mary Ann. Although not married to John's father, Junius Brutus Booth, an acclaimed actor, Mary raised their children and kept Junius from his self-destructive tendencies for many years. John Wilkes was Mary's favorite although she knew he was capable of great accomplishment or destructive evil
Asia, John Wilkes' sister, was devoted to him. She adored her brother and tried to help him achieve his goal of being a great tragic actor.
Lucy Hale, daughter of a senator, was supposedly John Wilkes' finacée although historical records are not clear. She is portrayed as a naive girl flattered by the attention of a famous actor.
Mary Surratt, owner of the boarding house where the plot to kill Lincoln was hatched, appears to have been skeptical of John Wilkes and more concerned for the safety of her son who had joined Wilkes in the plot. After Wilkes' death all of these women suffered, but Mary paid the ultimate price.
I found the story of the four women who were closest to Booth fascinating, although I had been expecting to see more of him in his role as conspirator. We have only one chapter where we see the action through his eyes. The book starts with his parents' romance and later his childhood and adolescence. It's interesting to see what the author believes molded him into the person he was, but if you're expecting to dive into the conspiracy you have to get through most of the book first.
I enjoyed the book, but recommend it only if you're interested in how Wilkes affected the people around him.
I received this book from Random House for this review.