Excerpt from Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Courting Mr. Lincoln

by Louis Bayard

Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard X
Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2019, 352 pages

    Feb 2020, 416 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Courting Mr. Lincoln

had a notion of running upstairs to Mary's bedroom and mending themselves before the looking glass. But the back stairs were blocked by kegs, and Mercy was anxious about leaving Mr. Conkling alone for too long, and so they were just inching back into the main hall when a gentleman guest, leaning indolently against the wall, chose that moment to swivel round.

"Why, there you are, Miss Todd," he said.

Joshua Speed's coat fit him as lightly as feathers. His boots looked as if they had been blacked at the door. But what struck Mary most forcibly was his hair, which had lain hidden from view during their last encounter and which now rippled in chestnut waves down to his collar. A prodigal mane that had the effect of both lengthening and poeticizing his face. Yes, she thought, this must have been how Lord Byron looked, training his gaze upon some Alpine lass.

"Good evening," she remembered to say. She slid a damp tendril off her face and glanced into the empty space where Mercy had just stood.

"I fear I've come too late to make it onto your program," he said.

"Oh." She stared at the tiny book still dangling from her wrist. "I believe I have a waltz open... ."

"Then," he said, "the night is not lost." He bent over the program, wrote out his name in a light, casual hand. "How those flowers become you."

"I regret to inform you they are silk. Give me a few more weeks, and I shall have real ones to conjure with."

"I hope you will set one aside for me, then."

She smiled and shifted her eyes just to the west of him. An attitude of maidenly abstraction, refined over some years, that had the usual effect of calling out another compliment, more lavish than the previous. In this case, Mr. Speed said only: "There's someone you should meet."

He swung his head around in an arc of expectation—only no one was there. With no great delicacy, he leaned in the direction of the foyer and beckoned with his arm. Against all expectations, a figure came lumbering toward them.

Her first impressions arrived singly, refusing to be reconciled. An El Greco frame, stretched beyond sufferance. A mournful well of eye. A face of bones, all badgering to break through.

From here, all was confusion. Mr. Speed, who gave every sign of wanting to remain, was being called away, and Mary was reaching out a hand to stay him, and at the same time, this other man's hand—massive and elemental—was extending toward her, and it was this hand in which her hand now unaccountably rested, like a starfish on a boulder, and Mr. Speed was already slipping from view, and Mr. Speed's friend, scarcely audible, was saying something to her. He was saying ...

"I know who you are."

But the effect of being recognized was not so tonic as it had been with Mr. Speed. Now it only discomposed her.

"You must forgive me," she said. "I failed to catch your name."


"Ah ."

Her brain went scrambling; her smile, by way of compensation, stood still.

"I believe you are known to me as well. By repute... ."


"I mean my cousin has spoken of you. John Stuart, yes?"

He nodded, with such an emphatic motion that his chin came nearly to his chest.

"You ..." She ventured an inch further on the limb. "If I'm not mistaken, you are partners, are you not? In Cousin John's law practice... ."

"Guilty." He was silent for a time, then roused himself enough to add, "I'm glad you mention Congressman Stuart. I owe him a great deal."

"Well, he—speaks very highly of you, Mr. Lincoln." Was that true? "He tells me ..." What? "He says you are quite the force. In the courtroom, I think."

"Oh. Well." He gave the punch bowl a stare. "I don't have a great deal of book learning, so I expect I'm able to speak to juries at their own level."

Excerpted from Courting Mr. Lincoln by Pierre Bayard. Copyright © 2019 by Pierre Bayard. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  History of the First Lady

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    by Jennifer Saint
    Few cultures in history mastered the art of tragedy quite like the ancient Greeks. And very few ...
  • Book Jacket: Salvage This World
    Salvage This World
    by Michael Farris Smith
    In the near-future universe of Michael Farris Smith's Salvage This World, life-threatening ...
  • Book Jacket: Where Coyotes Howl
    Where Coyotes Howl
    by Sandra Dallas
    Where Coyotes Howl may appear to be a classically conventional historical novel — a wide-eyed ...
  • Book Jacket: After the Miracle
    After the Miracle
    by Max Wallace
    Many people have heard one particular story about Helen Keller—how the saintly teacher, Annie ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Little Italian Hotel
    by Phaedra Patrick

    Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

Y S M Back A I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.