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About Booth: A Novel
In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next sixteen years. Junius Booth—breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor, and master of the house in more ways than one—is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws frighteningly closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.
As the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths emerge from their hidden lives to cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and criminal disasters begin to take their toll, and the solemn siblings of John Wilkes Booth are left to reckon with the truth behind the destructively specious promise of an early prophecy.
Booth is a startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of the ties that make, and break, a family.
Praise for Booth: A Novel
“The historical context [Fowler] offers is of a pre–Civil War America of deep moral divides, political differences tearing close families apart, populism and fanaticism run amok. The similarities to today are riveting and chilling.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Like Tolstoy before her, and Natalia Ginzburg, Karen Joy Fowler understands that the only way to write about history is as clattery, complex dramas of ordinary people and their families—they become the stuff of history later. Booth is a subtly devastating meditation. . . . Its world—dense, granular, intricate—is created with immense care and precision, and rendered in prose of limpid, lyrical beauty. This is her finest, most beautiful novel to date.” —Neel Mukherjee, author of A State of Freedom
“What an extraordinary story. What a family. Gripping, clever, and the central issue is alive and kicking today.” —Sir Tom Courtenay