“Let history decide what to make of the misguided, vengeful man who had killed a great and noble president. That was not the man she had known and loved. She had already said all she ever intended to say about the assassin John Wilkes Booth.”
Fates and Traitors is a new historical fiction novel that looks at the life of John Wilkes Booth through the story of four significant women in his life: his mother, his sister, his love interest, and his confidant. Jennifer Chiaverini creates an in-depth look into the lives of these women and their relationship with John Wilkes Booth.
First we meet his mother, Mary Ann, who of course adored her children. The story goes back to before John was born and to Mary Ann’s complicated affair with John’s father, which shows a woman very much devoted to her family. We are then introduced to John’s sister, Asia who idolized her brother, and Lucy Hale, who was courted by John Wilkes Booth. He and Lucy were secretly engaged and Chiaverini’s fictionalized version of their relationship provides an interesting perspective. Lastly we meet, Mary Surratt, who was the owner of a boardinghouse where John planned much of his acts. The author also includes the perspective of John Wilkes Booth himself along with alternating perspectives to conclude the novel and show the aftermath of Wilkes’ actions.
This is a detailed and descriptive historical fiction novel that paints a portrait of a man’s life through those who played a significant part in it. The individual perspectives and stories of the four women are each fascinating in their own way and create a view of Wilkes’ life that is not typically explored. An intriguing take and depiction of an infamous historical figure.
*Book provided by publisher for an unbiased review.