Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Book Review for The House of Lincoln by Nancy Horan

 The House of Lincoln by Nancy Horan


Publication June 6, 2023

Genre:  Historical Fiction, Civil War

Taken from Goodreads:  The House of Lincoln tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's ascendance from rumpled lawyer to U.S. President to Great Emancipator and presents Lincoln’s Midwestern home as a complex third home front of the Civil War.

Rich with historical detail, The House of Lincoln is an insightful account of Lincoln’s transformative vision for democracy as observed through the eyes of a young immigrant who arrives in Lincoln's home of Springfield, Illinois from Madeira, Portugal.

Showing intelligence beyond society's expectations, fourteen-year-old Ana Ferreira is offered a job in the Lincoln household assisting Mary Lincoln with their boys and with the hosting duties borne by the wife of a rising political star. Ana bears witness to the evolution of Lincoln's views on equality and the Union and observes in full complexity the psyche and pain of his bold, polarizing wife, Mary. Yet, alongside her dearest friend in the Black community, Ana confronts the racial prejudice her friend encounters daily as she watches the inner workings of the Underground Railroad, and directly experiences how slavery contradicts the promise of freedom in her adopted country.

Culminating in an account of the little-known Springfield race riot of 1908, The House of Lincoln takes readers on a journey through the historic changes that reshaped America and continue to reverberate today.


My Thoughts:  I love learning everything I can about US History, but history class was my least favorite subject.  Since I have been reading more historical fiction books, I have learned so much.   The House of Lincoln is a phenomenal look at the private and public life of Abraham Lincoln through the eyes of a young immigrant girl who worked in his household.    It is also the story of the US during a time of unrest, the Civil War.  


Usually, I do not read reviews before I read the book but this time I did and I saw many that said the book was good but there were flat times where it felt like a history was just being told, not lived.  I have to disagree.   Never did I feel like I was being told anything.  I felt like I was living the lives of the characters.  I was seeing and feeling the excitement of Lincoln’s life, the fear of the war, and grief over Lincoln’s death.  The book moved through Lincoln’s life but even more it told of the world he was living in and the way that he was working to make it a better place.  


The House of Lincoln is a great look at the history of Springfield, Illinois (I did not know there was a riot there), the history of the US during the Civil War, and the history of Abraham Lincoln.  


Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark for a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  


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Meet Nancy Horan (Taken from her website):  Nancy Horan is the author of three novels. Loving Frank (2007) chronicles a little-known chapter in the life of legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and his client, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Loving Frank remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for over a year. It has been translated into sixteen languages and received the 2009 Prize for Historical Fiction awarded by the Society of American Historians.


Under the Wide and Starry Sky (2014) explores the unlikely relationship of Robert Louis Stevenson and his spirited American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson. Horan aims to understand the past by interpreting and portraying the impact of real events on the lives of real people. Stevenson has been credited with a wise observation: “Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” The author is interested in how her characters arrive at the banquet, and how they deal with the results of their choices.

The House Of Lincoln (2023) chronicles the intersecting lives of three families in Springfield, Illinois beginning in the 1850s. A Portuguese house girl for the Lincoln family narrates the struggle of her immigrant family and her experiences inside the home of the her employer; a minister and barber to Lincoln reveals the Underground Railroad activities of his free Black family; and Mary Todd Lincoln’s point of view reveals her joys and profound losses over the course of her life. Culminating in the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, The House of Lincoln documents the Civil War and its aftermath in Abraham Lincoln’s chosen hometown. The House of Lincoln is the result of the author’s journey to portray a history beneath the more familiar history of Abraham Lincoln.


A native Midwesterner, Nancy Horan was a Chicago journalist before turning to fiction writing. She now lives with her husband on an island in Puget Sound.









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