Fates and Traitors

Jennifer Chiaverini (Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule) turns her historical fiction spyglass on the women connected to another famous Civil War-era name. However, this time she's chosen one of the most hated rather than admired men of the period. Fates and Traitors is the story of four women intimately connected to John Wilkes Booth. Through the eyes of Booth's mother, sister, love interest and fellow Southern sympathizer, Chiaverini sketches a passionate young man determined to fight for his adopted state of Virginia.

His mother, Mary Ann, and sister, Asia, illuminate Booth's childhood. A mediocre student with a somewhat skewed view of life, young Booth is nonetheless happy and optimistic. When he meets Lucy Hale, the daughter of a senator from New Hampshire, he strives to win the approval of her parents so he can one day marry her, despite the chasm of difference in their ideologies. And, finally, the widow Mary Surratt, arrested as one of Booth's co-conspirators, serves as a confidante in Booth's plan to save the South from what they saw as Lincoln's tyranny.

In Chiaverini's depiction of the notorious assassin, each of the four women is independent, smart and admirable, but they are also victims blinded by their love. Fates and Traitors is well researched, and readers will likely be motivated to learn more if they don't already know these key figures from Booth's life. The Shakespearean connections and quotes create a theatrical atmosphere, while the plot is highly suspenseful even when one already knows the outcome. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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